BARK CODE! James Thurber’s Dogs!!

Seven years ago I wrote this piece! Thought I would recycle!!

This topic was suggested by Lin, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium. Do drop in and look at what other writers in our group have to say on the same topic every Friday. AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi,, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Bark Code

Padmum / 7 yrs ago /

Every dog has its day and night.


I can’t sleep at night, neither can I nap in the day! So the internet gave me a terrific option. BOW_WOW NOISE CODE…

There is a new noise code in the US that will fine owners of dogs if their dog barks for more than 5 minutes in the night. NYTimes had reported that pet owners can be held responsible if their dog’s barking is “unreasonable and plainly audible” from nearby homes for a continuous period of at least 10minutes (from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) or 5 minutes (from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

Newsday quoted a dog owner, Marlene Hussey “How are you going to tell a dog you only have five minutes?”

What will happen if such a law is brought in by eager babu’s in India?

Let’s say, the dog has been trained to bark for 10 minutes, three times a day by his vet/trainer/owner to get rid of his angst—what will be the parameters of fining for exceeding 5 mins in the day. Can the owner charge the authorities for retraining bills?

The flip side is that the next great invention could possibly be something to measure the bark— A barking metre.

What about the neighbours complaints? Again an interesting question? The important aspect of this law is the validity and veracity of the neighbour’s complaint, his/her timing of the event. How true could the bow report be?

Next, what about the role of the Police in all this—who takes precedence for action—the shop breaker, the wife beater or the dog barking owner. Maybe nature’s call will take precedence.

Barking dogs don’t bite—so if a dog has a successful record of biting, will that be a good defense against allegations of barking. crazy

The warning boards on gates of bungalows in Chennai already reads, “Beware of Biting Dogs”–so is this in preparation of a new bark-code? Will visitors have to bark (not exceeding 5 minutes) to gain entry?

Some canines may have a dogged defense that it was the owner who barked, then in the event who will gain the benefit of doubt.

Owners may also claim that it was the TV, another neighbour’s dog or a venomous spouse. How do you verify this? Who will get punished?

And what about Vets and dog-creches who have kennels full of home/sick dogs? Will they be bowwow-deep in trouble?

Finally, if the owner is ready to pay the penalty n number of times, will that be okay? Will a limit be set for the penalty? Will the dog have to be jailed for trying the patience of sympathetic judges–also canine owners? Will the dog be allowed on parole for bark-behaviour?

In all this what about Noise Pollution and the dog catchers. The neighbourhood dogs have great sessions every night barking news and abuse to each other and chasing two wheelers on the rampage. They also have how(l)-ooing serenades to dogs on heat. So in this case who gets penalised?

The last words–what about animal activists–what will they say?

Sleepless in Chennai Padmum

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I’d Rather Be

No human being is ever satisfied with who they are, what they are, where they are, how they are and why they are at all!!

We want to be somebody else, we want to have what others have, we want to be somewhere else than where we are at present. Finally, after all that we achieve, we wonder whether it is worth it at all.

So what is it that I am really seeking as I travel through life?

What do I seek when I chase money, pleasures, fame, name, power or heaven?

Do I seek all these for the sake of these different goals? Then when I achieve one goal, I would be happy, content. When I have fulfilled any given desire, then I would be glad to ‘be’ there. However, this being is only a momentarily satisfying status for another desire or series of desires will take over and push me towards striving to achieve them.

Desires change in nature and in time but one thing remains constant. Despite all the accomplishments I may have, the unsatisfied and inadequate person remains.

I cannot accept myself as I am and throughout my life I try to be acceptable to myself by searching for that ‘Holy Grail’!!

Will I one day become totally acceptable to myself and find a lasting fulfilment that does not depend upon any situation, any given place or time?

My brother, Arvind Rajgopaul’s boss, had a philosophy of life that sums up this desire to be something and somebody in life. He used to say that every human being needs a list of ten desires or wishes. This list should be divided into five major and five minnow desires or goals. Once, a major wish is fulfilled, promote a minor one to the major list and create a new minor goal. If a minor one gets fulfilled, get a new one and add it to the list. So I’d rather be fulfilling one of these ten desires and creating new ones. This pursuit will keep me busy and on the go all my life.

My friend Aparna Krishnan is a scholar and somebody who is living amongst the villagers of a small hamlet beset with common rural problems. Her experiences are worth exploring but would I be her? No, I don’t think I have the physical stamina, grit and passion to retire to a village with no mod cons, poverty, lacking health services. I am an urban animal who cannot find her way in a jungle. However, I have a feeling deep within my soul that I wish I could be her. She quotes:

मूर्खो न हि ददाति अर्थ नरो दरिद्रयशङ्कया ।
प्राज्ञः तु वितरति अर्थ नरो दरिद्रयशङ्कया ॥

The fear of becoming poor in future prevents a fool from giving [away wealth in charity]; haunted by the same fear the wise donates [generously now].

This nature of my longings leads me to think that there is no connection between what I want and what I do: I want to be free from being a wanting, limited, satisfied, insignificant person I want to be a contented person. Spiritual pursuits help me to learn from the experiences of great saints, philosophers and teachers who have been there, seen that, done that and have come out of this chakra of want.

The first step is to just be an ethical person and try to excel in what I do. I should try and contribute to my society as much as I can without expecting anything more than being able to do this.

Since we have the faculty of free-will, we have the faculty to choose our goals in life, work for their fulfilment and for that we have the support of the scriptures. We have to choose the end we wish to pursue and the means to gain that end. All the things we desire fall under four main headings: dharma ethics, artha security, kama pleasures, moksha liberation. These are called purusharthas.

Artha and kama are common with animals. Dharma and moksha are peculiar to human beings alone.

That is why I am gradually being with Vedanta: ‘Veda’ means “knowledge” and ‘anta’ means “end”. The light for this path has been lit by my eldest brother Ramana Rajgopaul. He led me to Swami Dayananda Saraswathi.swamiji

In a nutshell, Vedanta says that I am already what I am looking for. I am the limitless, the whole, and free from this sense of limitation, insecurity and lack. This is the ultimate knowledge of my true nature.

Vedanta teaches me to be or live in harmony with the world by recognizing my place within the scheme of things. It helps me to be sensitive to myself, to others and to the environment. A person who is sensitive and mature does not take anything in Creation for granted. It aims to teach me the importance of the appropriate use of free will and helps me to make a deliberate choice to do what is to be done. It helps me not to give in to raga dwesa—likes and dislikes. It has helped me to be grateful to the Lord—Iswara and to express appreciation for all that I have been given (received) in life.

My Guru Swami Paramarthananda sums it up beautifully:Swami Paramarthananda

‘O Lord,

Let me be cheerfully and enthusiastically active. Let me enjoy whatever I do.Iswara

Let me contribute to the future; let me not try to control the future.

Let me influence positively through my life and language; let me not try to change others.

Let me have the wisdom to discover satisfaction and security within myself, whatever be the setup ‘.

This topic was suggested by Shackman, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium.   The seven other bloggers who write regularly are AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi,, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their ‘being’ is all about!




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A Road Hog!!

Road hogYes!! This is the tag given to a driver who takes too much space on the road. In India we have road hogs that are actually not pigs but many other creatures and road conditions.

The most famous road hog in India is the politician. Every politician whether in power or not elected in the last election travels on the road surrounded by a convoy of sidekicks, black belts and security persons. This convoy can include anything from three to four cars, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, cycles, SUV’s, ambulances, police jeeps etc. depending on the politician’s importance individually and in the party that he/she represents.convoy

I live in an area that is the hub for the two leading politician leaders of the two most important political parties of Tamil Nadu. If either of these leaders are moving around, the traffic comes to a stop. Many of us spend this waiting time counting the number of vehicles in the convoy and I can assure you that once I counted 23 motor vehicles….it can go upto forty!! So…the tag road hog surely fits this convoy mentality!!

The other road hog is an inanimate entity…you may question why I call this as a road hog. Well!!

BJ87D9 A car approaches potholes in Priory Road, Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.

BJ87D9 A car approaches potholes in Priory Road, Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.

Potholes in India are not found just here and there. They are an important deterrent to traffic in urban India. You can see vehicles dipping in and out in waves as they traverse the potholes in the road!!

We are a nation who loves processions. It can be religious, it can be demos, it can be weddings and even funerals. The other day there was a news item where a rich businessman relinquished all his worldly trappings and took to a life of austerity. He had this huge procession in a silver chariot and literally threw away his money, car and home keys and so many other possessions. A donor road hog, you could say, right?

Local ganglords are an important part of our city slums. In a slum there is a funeral every week or so. The custom is to arrange a highly decorated lorry or cart elaborately…with flowers, gold trimmings, buntings, mirrors and other embellishments. funeralThis is called a chariot and the procession is taken very seriously. Ducks walk ahead, followed by hens and pigs. Then kids join the procession dancing to the drums of the local boys. Country liquor is passed around and the chariot with the dead person is taken on a road strewn with flowers. At the back sometimes the women join too for some distance. The custom is that women do not go to the cremation grounds!! Naturally, traffic comes to a stop.

So, a road hog need not necessarily be a driver of a single vehicle. Our bus drivers and two wheelers have road rules crafted by their own ilk. Buses rarely stop at the kerb of a bus stop…they prefer the middle of the road to disgorge the alighting passengers. busYou have to be really agile to climb on to these buses pushing and pulling with arms akimbo to give you leverage to get onto the bus after crossing a few yards of macadam where you may have arguments with two wheelers who are weaving to destinations any which way!!

How we navigate our roads and live to tell a tale is entirely due to our Divine destiny!! We even have an avatar of Lord Vishnu, our caretaker, preserver, CEO of our lives with a boar face called Varaha Avataram!!


Varaha is the third incarnation in the Dashavatara, the ten principal avatars of Vishnu. When the demon Hiranyaksha stole the earth (personified as the goddess Bhudevi) and hid her in the primordial waters, Vishnu appeared as Varaha to rescue her. Varaha slew the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting it on his tusks, and restored Bhudevi to her place in the universe. Varaha is depicted with a boar’s head and human body. His consort, Bhudevi, the earth, is often depicted as a young woman, lifted by Varaha.

This topic was suggested by me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my take on it.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Pravin,  Shackman, and The Old Fossil.

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Internationally Famous Landmarks in my Hometown CHENNAI

chennai-collageWelcome to Chennai, bustling metropolis, IT and automobile industry’s destination, historic city with its interesting amalgam of conservative old world charm, art and culture and intelligence, education, world savviness and  political awareness and debate.

Tamil Nadu is a state where heritage, history and culture are a living tradition. Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.

Chennai, with historically rich records dating from the British era, houses 2,467 heritage buildings within its metropolitan area (CMA), the highest within any Metropolitan Area limit in India. Chennai is home to the second largest collection of heritage buildings in the country, after Kolkata.

Most of these buildings are around 200 years old and older. The Chennai Central Station building, Chennai Egmore Station, Ripon Building, Bharat Insurance Building are still standing strong.

The Marina Beach marina-beach-chennai

The daylight chases the dark skirts of the night and over the horizon slowly, slowly, the sun sends its rays shooting through the sky. The ripples on the sea come crashing into the beach as hundreds watch the daily pageant put on by nature. Many health and fitness enthusiasts every morning enjoy the salubrious air and ambience to walk, exercise and meet up with regular visitors of family and friends for whom the word ‘beach’ means the Marina in Chennai. Marina beach, one of the top five best natural beaches in the world welcomes its visitors with clean sands, pavements and roads thanks to the regular regime of the Municipality that has special equipment to free the beach of its daily debris. Many purveyors of alternative medicines, health food and natural remedies set out their wares.

Indo-Saracenic buildings

Indo-SaracenicOn the other side of Marina Beach are a whole series of Indo-Saracenic buildings that house colleges and the university. The restoration and renovation of the Senate House in the University campus at Chepauk has unearthed old, forgotten techniques and methods of decoration like the use of Chettinad plaster and Sgraffito.

Fort St.George

Further on is the Fort St.George, the first English (later British) fortress in India,Fort_St_George_Chennai founded in 1644 at the coastal city of Madras that is today’s modern city of Chennai. The construction of the fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally an uninhabited land. The city evolved around the fortress. The fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and other official buildings. The fort is one of the 163 notified areas (megalithic sites) in the state of Tamil Nadu.

St. Mary’s Church St Mary

The church inside the Fort is the oldest Anglican church in India. It was built between 1678 and 1680. The tombstones in its graveyard are the oldest English or British tombstones in India. This ancient prayer house solemnized the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale, who later became the first benefactor of Yale University in the United States. St Mary inside


Mylapore that translates to the place of the peacock is older than the city of Madras. The area takes its name from the Kapaleeswarar Temple where Goddess Parvathi took the incarnation of a peacock and worshipped Lord Shiva. K Temple

The spirit of the city centres around the Kapaleeswarar Temple. The sthalavriksha or the ‘punnai’ tree (Calophyllum sp ) one of the oldest in the city and the temple chariot are revered by all. The spaces around the temple are filled with commerce, religion, food and tradition. Brassware, bronze and books, silks and gems, gold and silver, music and literature flourish in this area. Take a tour on a cycle rickshaw or walk the bylanes where you can see orthodox homes. The streets resound to strains of classical music and rhythms of dance steps, Vedic chanting and traditional lore wafting from the doorways.

Basilica of St.Thomas

San ThomeAt the southern end of the Marina beach, you can walk into the Basilica of St.Thomas with a beautiful stained glass window depicting the story of ‘Doubting Thomas’, the Apostle of Christ.

The word Santhome or San Thome is derived from Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The apostle landed in Muziris (in Kerala) in A.D. 52, was martyred in A.D.72 at St.Thomas Mount in the city, and was interred in Mylapore. A church was built over his tomb and today is known as the San Thome Basilica. The Basilica is one of the four churches that claim to have been built over the tomb of an apostle. (Others include St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy; the Church of Saint James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and the Ghareh Keliseh Monastery of St. Thaddeus in Ghara-Kilise, Iran.) santhome-church-innerview

Commonly known as Santhome Church, the International Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica has an underground tomb chapel where pilgrims can pray in front of the sepulchre of St. Thomas. Superstitious people believe that sand taken from the tomb has miraculous healing powers. Marco Polo the great Venetian traveller visited the tomb in 1292 and made a record of his visit in his travel diaries.

St Thomas Mount

St Thomas Mount is a Holy place of international prominence, historical eminence, religious glory and tourist attraction. As planes land at Chennai airport a glimpse of this rocky hilltop especially illuminated in the night is a wonderful sight to see. This old, relic filled church was built in 1523 by the Portuguese. St Thomas Mount Chapel

This was the place where St Thomas was killed. The ancient Church can be reached after climbing 160 steps to the top of St. Thomas Mount. It has served as the light house for the Portuguese and Armenian ships and vessels in the Bay of Bengal in the 16th and 17th centuries. Interestingly, it is said, when sailors sighted the Church they offered prayers for a safe Voyage and then discharged salutations from their artillery. Preserving its antiquity, this five century old Shrine Chapel has been renovated and restored in recent times.

According to tradition, the Cross was chiselled on a stone of this hill by St Thomas himself and used by him for his personal prayer gave strength to him when he was pierced from behind with a lance as he was praying before it. It is believed that the Cross should have been stained with the blood of the Martyr. This Cross was accidentally discovered later by the Portuguese when they dug the foundations for the new Church in 1547.

Ancient records say that this Cross sweated blood during the Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Gasper Coelho on the 18th December 1558. In the early years, this Cross used to sweat blood every year, then every two or three years and, later, at longer intervals. The last occasion on which it was found sweating blood was in 1704.


Originally called Thiru-alli-keni, it was for many years a Brahminical stronghold and provided much of the clerical work-force required by the East India Company. It houses Chennai’s oldest surviving temple, the Parthasarathi temple. parthasarathy01A letter written by Swami Vivekananda to the Lord of this temple (Vishnu) describing his success in Chicago is preserved here with great pride.chennai-parthasarathy-swamy-temple-photos-2

The four streets around the temple still have century old houses surrounded by modern symbols of technology. The lifestyle here still resembles cultural and ethnic heritage of 200 years ago. Roadside eateries, or kai-endhi (self-service) bhavans as they are known locally, to family-run ‘mess’es serve authentic Tamizh and Muslim food.

North of the temple is Amir Mahal, the home to the Nawab of Arcot, who still lives there. The Wallajah mosque,or Badi Masjid is very important to the city’s Muslims. Walk into the Mansions to experience the environment of single men of the city.

The Museum or Pantheon Complex

MuseumMuseum or Pantheon Complex on Pantheon Road is the haunt of history buffs. Fabulous bronzes, wood carvings, coins and 2nd Century relics are housed in 46 galleries in a red brick building. The circular Museum theatre with its quaint Victorian ambience is a favourite place that stages English plays.

Kanjeevaram Silk 

A Kanchipuram Sari, usually in silk, is traditionally made by weavers from Kanchipuram, an hour’s drive from Chennai. These are woven naturally and distinguished by their wide contrast borders. Temple borders, checks, stripes and floral (buttas) are traditional designs found on a Kanchipuram sarees. silk

According to Hindu legends in, Kanchi silk weavers are the descendants of Sage Markanda, the master weaver of Gods who is supposed to have woven tissue from lotus fibre. Cotton is considered to be the favourite fabric of Lord Shiva, while silk is preferred by Lord Vishnu. k silk

Even today the people living around Kanchipuram take weaving as their main profession. A single Kanchipuram sari can cost anywhere between ₹2500 (US$40) to ₹100000 (US$1,600) or more depending upon the intricacy of work, colours, pattern, material used like zari, gold thread etc. sari

Since 2005, Kanchipuram saris are protected by a Geographical Indication label, certifying their origin.

This topic was suggested by Ramana Rajgopaul for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium. The bloggers who write regularly on one topic giving their own perspectives are AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi,, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs.

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Right and Wrong

The story of Ramayanaramayan

Sunoji suno, Sunoji suno
Hear the epic story of Rama and Sita
Rama, Baratha, Lakshmana and Shatrugana
Were the sons of Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra
The three wives of Ayodhya’s King Dasaratha

Heroic Rama was valour personified
Brave and gallant even as a child
He went and battled in the forests wild
With Sage Viswamitra and killed demons vile

King Janaka’s beloved daughter Seeta
The darling beautiful princess of Mithila
Had to choose a husband by a Swayamvara
So Rama was brought there by Sage Viswamitra

Rama bent and broke the bow of Lord Siva
Defeating many a valiant Raja
And won the hand of beautiful Seeta
And brought her back as Princess of Ayodhya

Rama was named heir apparent
To the throne of Ayodhya by Dasaratha, his parent
But, Kaikeyi demanded two boons from the old King
Her son Baratha was to be made Ayodhya’s King

Rama was banished to the forests for years fourteen
His father died of a broken heart grieving
Seeta, brother Lakshmana did Rama accompany
And Baratha, ruled Ayodhya as a Regent temporary

Panchavati was a forest so delightful
Rama, Lakshmana lived an exiled life peaceful
Until Ravana, the invincible Rakshasa, Lankan King
Cast his eyes and kidnapped Seeta with cunning

Sorrowful Rama searched the jungle and valley
Helped by the monkey army of Sugreeva and Vali
Valiant Hanuman crossed with a leap the sea
To discover in the Lankan Ashokavana, Seeta in misery

A bridge was built across the ocean
The armies clashed, Kumbakarna was woken
Ravana lost all his sons, kith and kin
Rama killed Ravana and rescued Seeta from her prison

They flew back to Ayodhya on the Pushpak Vimanam
Greeted with oil lamps and joy by all citizens
Thus came to an end Lord Vishnu’s avataram
The sixth, as Rama, Maryada Purushottam

This was a poem that I wrote some years ago for children to perform. It gives the story of the great Indian epic Ramayana in brief.

The story of Ramayana was first versified by Sage Valmiki and recited by the twin sons of Seeta who was estranged and abandoned by her husband King Rama of Ayodhya. This story of Rama, Seeta and the ten-headed demon King of Lanka, Ravana has impacted Indian thought, culture, traditions, societal values, religious customs and practices. It has been written, re-written, reinterpreted and tweaked over the centuries by writers, poets, dramatists, performing artists and storytellers. There are over 350 official Ramayana’s apart from hundreds of folk tales.

The sacred Ramayana is full of lessons for leading a Dharmic life. The Ramayana embodies various values that are important for a human being. In the characters and situations of the Ramayana, both the great epic writers, Valmiki and Kamban have illustrated the human predicament and how it can be resolved. Right and wrong are featured in this epic through various characters, situations and predicaments.

I am going to talk about some situations in the epic when the fine line between right and wrong is blurred and open to subjective interpretations.

manthra-kaikeyi-the-ramayana-boons-indian-mythology-storyThe hand maiden of Queen Kaikeyi, Mantara does not like the young boy Rama. One version says that this maid, a hunchback, was mocked at by the lad Rama for being slow in her movements. The more logical version says that just before the proclamation of Rama as Crown Prince, Mantara goads her queen to ask for the two boons promised to Kaikeyi by King Dasaratha (Rama’s father) on the battlefield. The boons are that her step-son Rama should go away to the forests for 14 years and that Kaikeyi’s son, Baratha should be given the throne. Mantara does this deed out of her own love and loyalty to her queen whom she has brought up from childhood. Kaikeyi’s volteface from an adoring step-mom of Rama to a vituperative shrew is sudden and shocking.

Was Kaikeyi wrong or right in her demands? Yes, Rama was the first born. King Dasaratha had promised her father that her son would rule Ayodhya and Kosala? The king;s blinding love for Rama and the fact that Rama was admired and loved by all and was suited to be king turns the decision in the first born’s favour. Kaikeyi was guarding her own son’s rights and at the same time her own position as Queen Mother that may have been compromised if Rama came to the throne. Here the individual’s desires and the need of the nation for the best man to rule come into conflict. The situation demanded that the King’s promises be kept or his veracity would have undermined his choice, Rama’s position as Crown Prince and then ruler of the nation.

In the forests Rama takes up the cause of the sages and destroys the demons who are troubling the hermitages. panchavatiRama’s own wife Seeta, a Princess who gave up her comforts and luxurious life to be with her husband through his exile, asks him why he is killing the Rakshasas. When the demons had not in any way harmed Rama, was he right in destroying them. Rama replies that it his duty to protect the weak and helpless community living in the hermitages. He says that his action is right for that is his dharma as a Kshatriya! The question of right versus wrong is also subjectively solved in this situation.

surpanakha_22664Surpanaka, the demoness, sister of Ravana comes across Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana (Rama’ brother) living peacefully in the idyllic surroundings of the forest. She is instantly attracted to the handsome Rama. He playfully redirects her interest to his brother Lakshmana and both toy with her feelings. When she attacks Seeta thinking her to be the cause of the men rejecting her advances, Lakshmana in a rage disfigures Surpanaka by cutting off her nose and breasts. Attacking a woman was considered to be a heinous attack. Yet, two women, albeit demonesses, are attacked by Rama (Thadaka is killed earlier by Rama) and Lakshmana. The question of right and wrong is blurred here again!

Seeta is attracted by the false golden deergolden deer that runs away and Rama chases it to bring it back alive or dead. He feels that Seeta has never asked him for anything and has happily followed him into exile and adjusted and adapted to the hardy life in a forest. To fulfil her wish he runs behind the deer knowing full well that it is a mirage. Lakshmana is left to guard Seeta but when she hears the desperate cry of help in her husband’s voice—cleverly imitated by the magician Mareecha in the guise of the golden deer—she asks Lakshmana to go to his rescue. When he refuses saying that it is a trick to isolate her, she loses her equanimity and accuses Lakshmana of having evil intentions towards her. Like Kaikeyi, this sudden switch in character and behaviour of a woman who has till now been the epitome of patience, motherly nature and kindness is difficult to accept. Was she right or wrong in jumping to conclusions? She does repent and says that her plight in the Ashoka Vanam in Lanka, where she is incarcerated after being kidnapped by Ravana, is entirely due to her momentary lapse of judgement.

The one event in the Ramayana that squarely places the question of right and wrong in the forum is Rama killing Vali while hiding behind a tree.

Valis deathThis is totally an un-Kshatriya act but is again explained off as a justification of any means is good to achieve a good end!

The agni pariksha or trial by fire of Seeta to prove her chastity after the war is over and she is released from captivity is a question that haunts every woman through the ages. agnipariksha_smRight or wrong, King or husband, man or woman—the moral dilemma of this situation is still being argued out in many a platform.

Finally, Rama is deified as Maryada Purushottam…the ideal man who lived by his principles, by his moral standards imposed on him as a King, a ruler, a protector of the weak and helpless. His loyalty and allegiance was to his father, his clan and then his people. All other relationships and loyalties came second or not at all when these loyalties were challenged.

Lord Hanuman, the monkey god and greatest devotee in Indian religion, thought and life beliefs, is the only blameless and true character in the Ramayana.

The story happened at a different time, a different yuga that was ruled by different value systems and social norms. To judge actions that took place then in a modern context is not practical or feasible. So let us enjoy the story for its different values, appreciate its poetry, characters, magical wonder and its timeless qualities. The story still enthrals and interests audiences!

SadguruSadhguru Jaggi Vasudev tells us a story to illustrate that there is no right and wrong in life. The beauty of existence lies in doing what is appropriate, rather than relying on morals and ethics.

Sadhguru: There is a beautiful story. The two wives of Vishnu, Laxmi, the goddess of fortune, and Alaxmi, the goddess of misfortune – both of them believed they were the most beautiful. So, on a certain day, they came and asked Vishnu, “Which one of us is the most beautiful?” 

Vishnu said to Laxmi, “When you are coming, you are the most beautiful.” And he told Alaxmi, “When you are going, you are the most beautiful.” 

Fortune is coming, misfortune is going – aren’t they most beautiful? 

That’s a smart answer, but what is the correct answer? Who is really beautiful? 

It is not just about a woman’s beauty, about anything in the existence, there is no correct answer. There is only an appropriate answer. This is an appropriate answer. Life is not about correctness, life is about appropriateness. So then what is the correct thing to do? There is no correct thing to do. What is the appropriate thing to do is the question. Only then you will be able to receive life. If you do correct things, you will make an utter idiot of yourself. If one starts looking for correctness of life, you become barren and empty. Life is essentially in its appropriateness. If you are looking for correctness, you may become a good person. 

If you bring your own silly sense of order to life, you will completely miss the magnificent order of the existence. 

People who believe they are good have morals, values and ethics. They hang on to this right and wrong, this morality and value systems because they give them a false sense of superiority. People who believe they are good are always looking down at the world. It is a sure way to miss the world. Even the most beautiful woman will not look very beautiful when you look from the top. Because you are continuously looking down, everything looks ugly and black – unless they are bald and shiny. Good people are everywhere. They have their values, they have their principles, they are very ethical, but they could live here for years being completely untouched by what is happening here. It doesn’t matter what you do, they remain untouched in their goodness. They live with the hope that good people go to heaven. 

All you are trying to do with your morality and values is to simplify life and find some order in a place where you are not able to figure out what is the beginning, what is the end. The life process seems to be so chaotic and unbearable for you that you are trying to bring some silly sense of order by establishing your own principles, your own morality, your own ethics. If you bring your own silly sense of order to life, you will completely miss the magnificent order of the existence. There is no need to be orderly. Existence is in perfect order.

This was a topic suggested for the LBC posts due last Friday. Was I wrong in not being on time…..or am I right in posting a blog, albeit late!! Check out the other bloggers who write on Friday or thereabouts on one topic AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi,, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

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Left and Right

Maria has spotlighted this topic this Friday.

March Past

There is a story related in Tamil Nadu about how the British taught ‘native’ recruits to their army to march. Somehow in all this glorification of the British might, the fact that Tamil Nadu had great warrior kings and their famous armies who conquered large tracts of the sub-continent and beyond the seas to Far eastern lands, has been conveniently forgotten. To get back to marching, recruits could just not understand the concept of ‘left’ and ‘right’ that was the guiding commands to make the soldiers go forward in step with each other. So the left leg ‘kaal’ was tied up with palm (olai) fronds and the right with ‘sheela’ or cloth. The sergeants shouted ‘ola kaal’ and the soldiers put forward their left leg. To the command of ‘sheela kaal’ they put their right foot out….and that is how they learnt left, right, left right and to march in one step!!


There are people who still find it confusing to say the right from the left…here is a simple way to pinpoint the ‘left’!


The thumb and forefinger form a natural L, doesn’t it?

Right foot forward

To many of us this is just one of those tall tales as every Indian knows that the left hand, even the left side of the body was always considered a slightly degraded part of the body. This was due to the fact that the left hand was used to wash your private parts. Anything auspicious was performed with the right hand…puja, cooking, eating….everything is associated with the Divine. The sacred thread is even today put on facing the left side for rites of passage.

A new daughter-in-law entered her married home putting her right foot first over the threshold.

Bride entering the house of the groom

Bride entering the house of the groom

The couple walked into a new home after performing the Gruhapravesham…entering the family home…by stepping in with their right foot. Usually a cow enters a new abode first…representing Goddess Lakshmi, the harbinger of well beingm, wealth and prosperity. Even the cow was made to place its right foot in first.

Hands on

Many theories abound that as most people are right handed, so the predilection for the right to predominate. However, modern life seems to be throwing up more and more left handers. Decades ago, a child who tried to write with the left hand was punished and forced to develop write handed penmanship that left deep scars in their psyche. Today mostly, a child is allowed to naturally use their left hand. My brother Arvind was forced to develop right handed skills. My two granddaughters are naturally left handed…yet their eating is still done with their right hand. My husband and daughter are ambidexterous. They use the right to write and eat, their left when they pick up a tool like a screwdriver.

Oddly enough, my left side has been weakened from childhood, not naturally but because of a mild attack of polio. With exercises and constant use, the left hand has picked up its strength….but it is still weak.

Astrology and Palmistry

In Indian astrology, a woman’s left hand is taken into account for predictions while for a man, it is the right hand!


I quote from Wikipedia…

“Though there are debates on which hand is better to read from, both have their own significance. It is customary to assume that the left hand shows potential in an individual, and the right shows realized personality.

Some sayings about the significance include

“The future is shown in the right, the past in the left”;
“The left hand is the one we are born with, and the right is what we have made of it”;
“The right hand is read for men, while the left is read for women”;
“The left is what the gods give you, the right is what you do with it”;
“The right hand is read for right-handed people, while the left is read for left-handed people”.

The choice of hand to read is ultimately up to the instinct and experience of the practitioner.

Left: The left hand is usually controlled by the right brain (often believed to direct control pattern recognition, relationship understanding), reflects the inner person, the natural self, the anima, and the lateral thinking.

Right: The right hand is usually controlled by the left brain (often believed to direct logic, reason, and language), reflects the outer person, objective self, influence of social environment, education, and experience. It represents linear thinking.

We also have these constant jokes about countries that drive on the right side of the road like France and USA and those nations that follow the British custom of Keep to the Left!! You can also be confused with the following signboards!!


Left or Right is also associated with politics with many being fence sitters, right in the centre!!

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The Rice Cleaner…Buddha’s Path of Self-Remembering

A great master had a big monastery – five hundred monks – and they were all practicing the path of self-remembering. Self-remembering is one of the paths Buddha has recommended.


One man entered into the monastery – he wanted to become a disciple. The master accepted him, but he was a very simple man from a village, almost uneducated. The master told him, ”Your job is cleaning the rice in the kitchen.”

It was a big kitchen – five hundred monks. The poor man was cleaning the rice before sunrise and late into the night. He had no time to go to the sermons, to go to the prayers; he had no time to read the scriptures or listen to the wise talks. Those five hundred monks were great scholars, and the monastery was known all over the country.

Twenty years passed and the man continued just cleaning the rice and doing nothing. He forgot even to count the years – what was the point? He forgot the days, the dates, and finally he became suspicious about his own name. For twenty years nobody had used it, nobody had called him by his name – perhaps it was his name, perhaps it was not. For twenty years continuously he was doing one small thing: cleaning the rice, from the moment he woke up until he went back to bed rice

The master declared that his time to depart from the body had come. He wanted to choose his successor, and the way he did it was this: ”Anybody who thinks he has succeeded in self-remembering should write on the wall of my hut some insight which shows that he has seen the truth.”

One person, who was thought to be the greatest scholar in the commune, tried. But he was so afraid to write that sentence there, because it was not his insight. He knew – how could he not know it – he knew it was not his insight, it was just borrowed from scriptures. It was not his experience – and it was difficult to deceive the old man.

In the morning the old man came out, asked the servant to erase what had been written, and said, ”Find out who this idiot is who has spoiled my wall.”

It is said that the great scholar had not even signed, out of fear that he would be caught. If the master appreciated that this was really a great insight, then he would come out and say, ”I have written it.” Otherwise he would remain silent… who knows? Out of five hundred people anybody could have done it!

Almost one dozen great scholars tried, but none of them had the courage to sign his name. And the master behaved in the same way; he erased the line and said, ”None of you has come to the point of self-remembering. You have all been feeding the ego in the name of self. I reminded you again and again, but having a big ego is such a joy. And a spiritual ego, the otherworldly ego, the divine ego, becomes even more delicious. Now I will have to find the person myself.”

In the middle of the night the master went to the man who had come twenty years ago. For twenty years the master had not seen him, he had simply been cleaning rice. He woke the man up. The man asked the master, ”Who are you?” Because twenty years… he had just seen him once for a few seconds when he was initiated – ”And what is the idea of disturbing my sleep?”

The master said, ”I am your master. You have forgotten…? Do you remember your name?”

The man said, ”That is the difficulty. The work you have given me is such that it needs no name, no fame, no scholarship, no austerities. It is so simple that I have forgotten everything. I cannot be certain that this is my name. A few names come to my mind and I cannot decide which one is mine, but I am grateful to you.” He touched the feet of the master. ”Please don’t change my job. I have forgotten everything, but I have also achieved everything. I know a peace that I had never dreamed of, a silence that no word can express. I have known such moments of ecstasy that even if I had died there would not have been any complaint that life has not been fair to me. It has given me more than I was worthy of. Just DON’T change my job. I am doing it perfectly well. Has somebody complained about my work?”

The master said, ”No, nobody has complained, but your job has to be changed because I am choosing you as my successor.”

The man said, ”I am only a rice cleaner. I don’t know anything about being a master or a disciple. I know nothing. Please forgive me, I don’t want to be your successor because I cannot handle such a big job, I can only handle this rice cleaning.”

The master still insisted, ”You have achieved that which others have been trying to achieve but have failed. You have achieved it because you were not trying. You were simply doing your small work. Slowly, slowly there was no need for thinking, no need for emotions, no need for anger, no fight, no comparison, no ambition – your ego died. And with the ego died your name. You are not born with a name. It is the ego that is given a name – that is the beginning of the ego. With the death of the ego, you even forgot your own master, because it was the ego that brought you to me.

”Up to that moment you were on a spiritually ambitious trip. You are absolutely the right person, so take my robe, my hat, my sword, which have always been given by the master to the successor. But remember one thing: take them and escape from this monastery as far away as you can, because your life will be in danger. All these five hundred egoists will kill you. You are so simple and you have become so innocent that if they ask you for the robe, the sword, the cap, you will give them. You simply take them and go as far away as you can into the mountains.

”Soon people will start arriving to you just as bees start finding their way towards the flowers when the flowers blossom. You have blossomed. You need not bother about the disciples, you simply remain silently in a faraway place. People will come to you; you simply teach them whatever you have been doing.”

”But,” he said, ”I have received no teaching and I don’t know what to teach them.”

The master said, ”Just teach them to do small things, silently, peacefully, without any ambition, without any motivation to gain something in this world or in the other world, so that you can become innocent like a child.”

That innocence is real religiousness.


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