Karthigai Deepam… memories of a Full Moon festival

Karthigai festival was eagerly awaited …immediately after Deepavali got over preparations were initiated. New earthen lamps were bought from the vendor …a wizened , bristly scrawny villager who brought it every year in a basket perched precariously on his head. Some neighbours bought the lamps from Mylapore Tank…but our villager had what we called a “kuthagai” or lien on the sole rights of our purchasing schedule. He would arrive around noonish knowing that the morning chores, lunch would be done. He was given some food and a glass of buttermilk and then the wares were chosen carefully. Chips and snicks, breaks and misshaped lamps were discarded and the best of the lamps was bought.

Next step was to draw a bucket of water from the well and the lamps were immersed for some time. Then the lamps were dried in the elusive sun who kind of knew that he would be in demand and decided to play truant behind rain bearing clouds. The lamps were thoroughly sun dried and stored.

Freshly pressed oil…it is only recently that I understood what cold pressed oil was with this flashback….was sourced. The grocer would source the gingerly oil in big shiny tins and we would buy one. There was a contraption that was used like a pump to draw the oil out of the tin. Wicks were placed and the lamps arranged on brass plates or Thambalam’s, trays, plates and placed near the puja room. Oil was poured and we waited for the sunset.

The special dishes offered as prasadam

Meanwhile Amma would make the three different murmuras or pori urundais…the puffed rice was also brought to the door by an itinerant vendor who usually brought the arisi or puffed rice freshly made. For Karthigai, he brought puffed rice, poha rice (Avalon’s pori) and rice husk puffed rice…nellu pori.

Making these laddus was an art. The gelling quality of the vellam/gud syrup was important. You had to have new gud and it had to be melted and strained to remove impurities. The puffed rice was poured into the hot syrup and with ghee lining the palms there was a race to make the laddus for if it cooled down, then it could not be rolled into a Ball! I learnt how to make this from my mother but my MIL was an expert and I would do the preliminary stages of getting the pori ready in the syrup and give it to her for rolling. I was reminded of this when my bestie .. Shantha Radha posted her laddus which she declared was an achievement for her as it used to be a hit and miss task each year. (See picture)

Each family had a story about these laddus. In orthodox Thanjavur tradition, the pori was only mixed with the syrup and left to form clumps or coated pieces of Poris. Pori was not made into laddus as it is associated with rites of passage.

Some families made appam ( rice and gud dumplings) too and that was another tedious process. Adai made with all the dhals, rice and green spices and butter and coconut Thuvayal was the tiffin that evening. The sweetmeats were taken to the married daughter’s home and she was given Karthigai seeru….as the festival is also dedicated to the well being of brothers. For my first Karthigai, the seeru came by SRS lorry service from Mayavaram sent by my dearest Aunt Jayam Mami! New clothes and later on a sari was always presented by my mother as long as she was there! Nowadays, we make do with cash as all of us are scattered.

The line of earthen lamps lit at twilight in all the homes was a beautiful sight. Children were given the task of refilling oil and seeing to it that the lamps were lit. Meanwhile, crackers saved from Deepavali or bought for Karthigai were burst in front of homes!

One vivid memory takes me back to the 60’s…Karthigai is celebrated for 3 days…Sarvalaya Deepam, Annamalai Deepam and Kuppai Karthigai when the lamp was lit at the back of homes near garbage bins! Of course every year arguments were rampant about who celebrated the festival on which day as each family had a tradition and the Vedic calendar played ducks and drakes with the designated dates that were muddling to say the least.

There was excitement on the second day of Karthigai in Gopalapuram. There was a car chase being filmed and the actor Muthuraman was the hero. It was afternoon and we were all standing outside our gate eating our pori urundai and gawking at the stars! Muthuraman’s car drove up and was parked in front of our gate. His window was lowered and he was waiting for his shot with a revolver in his hand. My mother…feeling sorry for him …offered him a pori urundai. He put away the gun and took it from her, relished and ate it and said..Thank you Amma!

For the past few years my pori urundai is catered to by Saravana Bhavan or A2B! But I still have some lovely friends who share their homemade pori urundais with me!
The pori urundai photo is from Shantha Radha ‘s pooja! The kolam and lamps are from Sathanchery Ratnaswamy Sekhar ..his wife Uma makes the most beautiful rangolis..and she is an ace cook! They have moved away from Athashri…Uma used to make my front door kolam for all festivals and share all the special dishes she cooks…I miss her 😭!

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‘Michhami Dukkadam’..Forgiveness

What is ‘Michhami Dukkadam’?

Michchhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut) means bad deeds.

 Michchhami Dukkadam is a Jain prayer for forgiveness. The words say “May the bad deeds done to you by me be fruitless.

When you hold a grudge against someone or a deed of which you are a victim, the anger that you hold in your heart will bind you to that person in a negative way. It will hinder your path to salvation for which detachment is an important requisite. For mukthi one needs to detach oneself totally from all emotions …love, hate…feelings and karmas.

So “Michchhami Dukkadam” is a cleansing ritual that says if I have done any harm to you, then please forgive me for those bad deeds, intentions and thoughts. May they be nullified, fruitless.

In Sanskrit it is “Mithya me duskrtam” … may all the evil that has been done be in vain”!

Prayashchit in Sanatana dharma is to seek forgiveness for the sins being committed, knowingly or unknowingly. The first time my brother returned to our adopted village from living in the UK for many years, the Prayaschit ritual was performed. Crossing the ocean was considered adharmic. Today there is not a family in my circle where people have travelled, lived and spent their whole life in foreign lands.

Even Rama did the Prayaschita after his return from Lanka. It is said that to atone for the sin of killing a great Siva bhaktha, Ravana, Rama did penance and installed the murthy of Lord Shiva in Rameshwaram. Another incident that is said to be a prayaschit is the Ashwameda yagam..the Horse sacrifice…performed by Rama. Most often it is said to be performed to establish the sovereignty of Rama as supreme King in the region.

Forgiveness is a concept that is prescribed by every faith. Turning the other cheek is part of Christian faith. The Dalai Lama’s reply to the question as to why he forgave the Chinese for taking Tibet and its temples and why he did not express any anger or resentment against them was, “They took everything but I don’t want them to take my mind. By forgiving I am keeping my mind clear and serene”.

In Zen the healing nature of the practice of forgiveness is an important tenet. Zen meditation is the foundation for genuine forgiveness not only in the meditation hall but also in the daily activities of mundane life routines. Zen practice helps heal. It has the redemptive power of the here and now where genuine forgiveness is accomplished. Forgiveness means taking responsibility for past actions and intentions for the future.

In the practice of Reiki, gratitude and forgiveness are two important aspects of the healing process. The life force of Reiki can flow unobstructed only when the mind and heart is cleansed of rancour, bitterness and revenge. These negative emotions can cloud your mind and block the natural process of healing.

I think that the Jain concept of devoting a day for forgiveness is such a beautiful gesture and practice that i would love to adopt!

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Once upon a time there was a small time business man from a small village who used to sell butter in the nearby town.

A big shop owner in the town was his regular customer.

The villager used to deliver every month the shop owner the required butter in 1 kg blocks and in turn he used to get grocery items like sugar, pulses etc from the big shop owner.

Once the shop owner decided to weigh the butter and to his surprise every block of butter weighed 900 gms.
instead of 1kg.

Next month when the villager came to deliver butter,
the angry shop owner told him how he was cheated and told to leave the shop.

To this the villager replied to him courteously,
I am a very poor villager.
I don’t have enough money to even buy the required weights for weighing the butter.
I usually put the 1kg sugar you give me on one side of weighing scale and weigh butter on another side.

This simple story very beautifully illustrates that what we give to others comes back to us.

That is karma!

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The King, the Guru and a Kingdom

Once there was a very rich, good king. Over the years, he grew weary and just wanted stress less, peace of mind. He went to a Guru and fell at his feet and said “Can you tell me how to remove this great burden of stress and worry from my mind”.

“Will you do whatever I say?” asked the Guru.
“Anything Guruji, anything you say” the Raja said.
“Then give me your kingdom” Guru said and without the least hesitation, the Raja handed it to him.
“Now what are you going to do?” asked the Guru.
“Oh! I shall lead a simple life. I shall go wherever you go and do service for you”!
“I really don’t want anymore followers, but you can do something for me…will you”…he asked.
“Yes Guruji” he replied.
“You know how to run this kingdom, so I will pay you a monthly salary. You live on that income and run the government”.
They mutually agreed and the Guru left on his tours. A few years later he came back and visited his disciple. “How are you? How are your stress levels and worries” he asked.
“Oh, I am healthy and happy, I sleep well. The kingdom is flourishing and I have all the accounts ready fKor you” he replied.
“Have you understood the difference between when you were a king and now…how your whole attitude has changed” asked the Guru.
The ex-king had no reply. So the Guru told him….”It was all about ownership. When the kingdom was yours you agonised over every detail, every consequence, every paisa that you spent. Today you have learnt to live within your income, you do an honest day’s job with sincerity and then when you come home, you leave it behind. That is the difference. When we put a stamp on something as ‘mine’…that is the first step to starting your cycle of worry and stress and tension. If you can detach yourself from ownership…then your mental balance is easy to achieve…this is true of belongings, relationships, ideas and achievements”!
The ex-king was at peace at last!

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Relationship between Sales, Politics and Truth

In the modern world everything is for sale and has a price tag on it. You can buy anything if you have the means. Most importantly you can buy silence for a price. You can even attempt to buy a favourable judgement in a court of law. Governments practise deception. Businessmen do it very frequently on some alibi or the other. Politics is synonymous with manipulation.

To make a commodity appear to be what it is not, is the magic practised by an ace salesman. He has to use every tool in his bag to achieve this. He has to make the price appear reasonable. He has to describe its performance in superlative terms. The final outcome will depend on the extent of competition among similar products or services in the market, their price range, ready availability, packaging, reputation of the brand, ad spend etc. This is the most common scenario. It is a no holds barred game

Selling is a complex activity and so is politics. Both are a function of a large number of variables. Selling is essentially a transaction involving two parties and requires meeting of minds. The seller needs to decide that he wants to sell his product or service and the buyer must genuinely desire that he needs the product or service and both the parties must agree on the price. Ideally, except in a distress sale no seller will part with the product unless he is satisfied that he is getting a price that is at least marginally above the cost or value of the product in his hand. The buyer too (except when in a desperate need like corona vaccine) must be convinced that the price paid by him is at least marginally lower than the value of the product to be acquired. Thus, the product has 2 differing values in the eyes of the two parties.

This condition is not easily satisfied. This is where incentive, promotion offers, discount and deception start in an effort to break the barrier. If the product or service is unique and indispensable there is no special need to apply special pressures to push it. The so-called salesperson has only the simple job of describing the genuine features of his wares to a prospective customer.  Customers will queue up to buy it.

However, this is very rarely the case. If either uniqueness or indispensability of the product is lacking it generates competition. The salesman steps in to push it by hook or by crook. Another risk is a surprise competitor lurking in the dark to pose a threat. Then the salesperson steps in with his expertise in exaggerating the product’s plus points. He deftly conceals its weaknesses as well.

Similarly, in politics, the politician or political salesman aims at selling an idea to the public. But the price is not stated in monetary terms. The commodity sought to be sold is a bundle of promises and assurances. The platform for display of the commodity is the party ideology.  It could be a win- win/lose-lose/ win-lose or lose-win proposition for the two parties.

Political parties profess their concern for the common man, but their eye is on their own coffers, power, and prosperity. The common man becomes an incidental beneficiary, if at all. The camouflaging package is labelled ‘public good’. The bigger a political party’s coffer, the more its strength to bribe (more politely described as welfare measures, tax concessions, support to minorities and weaker sections etc.) voters directly and indirectly. Coffers are replenished by making and fulfilling promises to big businesses to boost their revenues by imaginative legislations and policies to overcome the hurdle of existing safeguards for the common man.

Truth, if anything, is an obstruction to politics and sales. When politics enters the scene, truth goes into hiding. Truth is too upright and has to be bent or cleverly hidden to facilitate politics and the profession of a salesperson. If the entire truth is exposed, it could cause serious embarrassment to a successful politician or salesperson.


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Break time-relaxing strategies

is an important activity of my break time.

When my kids were going to school and then the granddaughters..a small box was filled with biscuits or snacks to be eaten as elevenses as it used to be called. Lunchtime was a bigger box with a meal. Most often the lunchbox was half eaten. When it was wiped clean it meant that the box had been exchanged with a pal. The snackbox would be empty or contain remnants of some banned product like a chocolate wrapper donated by a kid who had sneaked it in. Break time was more popular than lunchtime.

Break ke baad or after the break is dished out all time by TV anchors followed by the admonishing rider “Don’t go anywhere” which is unfair as the as anchor gets to escape us but we the viewers get washed up by soaps, shampoos, detergents and toilet cleaners….and post Covid… wonder products for boosting immunity, disinfecting homes and hands, nose and ears. We also get info about how to protect families with insurance or policies of safety-nets with the comforting rider “After you are honed or “Dire things happen”!!

Now break time for me used to be in the toilet where I could escape the demands of my family needs with a book to read or the day’s crossword. That was before phones became mobile and could be handed in and I was told that taking printed material… considered to be the Goddess of learning and wisdom…a no no! Now I sing!

Music has always been a passion and as a family we have a song to suit every mood that we belt out with scant respect for pitch and melody sensitive ears in the vicinity.

Another passion that we four siblings share is solving crosswords. I have an app on my phone and I use it to fill in the demanding squares…though I am so clued in to the repetitive clues that the answer is many a time pre programmed in my mind.

My husband and I have always enjoyed Jigsaw puzzles. We used to sit hunched over the tiny bits of cardboard spread on Raju’s huge drawing board that had no further use. Now we move pieces around on the iPad. I like colourful ones and when we get dull ones as the daily free puzzle, I pass it on to him to finish. He also has the patience to use the rotation choice!

In recent years I have gone back to my knitting and crochet and that is a wonderful way of spending break time. The creative process of knit and purl, single and double and treble crochet is soothing and calming.

With kids..break time is usually Time out that gives a respite to both sides of the relationship. However kids don’t get the chance of giving time out to obsessive orders issuing moms and dads…..do this…don’t do this!

I love pottering around with plants and I now combine my sunning time with the pots on my terrace. I have an Adenium for the past three years who refuses to bloom. I have talked, scolded, ranted, pleaded, sung, ignored, promised dire consequences to her…but she sits there without any red blooms. My rose plants take turns to bloom but I’m okay with that.

Now in the sunset of my life I have more break time than any other activity. In fact watching Grey’s Anatomy or Law and Order or Escape to countryside or Small House living has become mainstream activity. So is Facebook or WhatsApp activity.

With so many choices of break time tasks who has the time for real action?

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Once the clock strikes–NN

When the clock strikes 12 it is either mid-night or noon. That is a simplistic answer.  Most clocks I know, even the Big Ben clock tower in London or Gantaghars in Delhi, have a record of being a little too slow or a little too fast depending on the season. From their chime one could only say it is only nearly 12pm or 12am.

A clock is a clock whether it works or not, unlike humans who suddenly become bodies and are cremated or buried when their heart packs up. A more complex phenomenon is that people all over the world are in different time zones. Countries have their own time zones. It is not midday or midnight for everyone at the same time. My morning in India is your night if you are in the US. It is not the same cup of tea, you see! More fundamentally the day and dates are different for countries in in different hemispheres. Yet in the modern world businesses all over the world are interlinked.  

Historically India became free when the clock struck 12 on the night of 14th August 1947, and it was the dawn of freedom at that precise moment. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister delivered his famous ‘India’s tryst with destiny’ speech in the Parliament at that moment to usher in our freedom from bondage from a colonial power that is today lecturing the world about democracy and tolerance! I was destined to be in the Capital at that moment. The community gathered near our house, hoisted the Khadi tricolour, saluted it and sang the national anthem with a lot of emotion. We congratulated each other and distributed sweets. I was all of 7 years then, but have photographic memory of the occasion.

The long hand of clocks everywhere have gone round and round since that all-important day for nearly 7.7 million times less down time for repairs. I feel that human hands that claim to work round the clock are grossly exaggerating their own performance.

Sadly every journey has an end point. Today we don’t use clocks for knowing time. Very few of us wear watches except as an ornament or for making a statement. There is no musical chiming sound. At best we set our cell phone to sound an alarm for getting up in the morning. Public Clocks are only the nearest historical land marks for locational identification. Even there Google is miles ahead. Many of them have frozen hands with no movement at all. However, clocks have the chance of survival as becoming antiques with value addition.

WFH has changed our work culture and the role of the time piece. Punctuality in attendance has lost its significance. In the past some great leaders were known for their punctuality and others had a dubious reputation for breaking it. Significantly in the same period the measurement of time has become more and more accurate. We have milliseconds, microseconds, nano seconds and so on. Split second has become an obsolete expression. It is no more just hours, minutes and seconds. My prediction is that in the not too distant future the time scale will undergo a metric conversion.

To end the story, let me narrate a time related story. There were 3 friends. Two of them had observed that their otherwise normal common friend tended to behave crazily at 12 Noon.  They politely brought it to his notice without offending him. He denied their allegation and challenged them to prove it. They met the next day at 11.30AM and placed a time piece on a table with the alarm set for 12noon. As the time approached the designated hour the friend under test repeatedly said “See, nothing has happened to me”. As the alarm finally went off, he was elated that he had passed the test. In joy he lifted the time piece and smashed it on the floor. End of story.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by our young blogger, Sanjana. Do drop in to see what the other bloggers in this group have to say on the same topic every Friday. Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini.








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We all grew up on the story of Cinderella, her godmother and the clock striking twelve when all the magic evaporated with the clap of the two hour hands together. Time did not stand still for her and she had to make a run for reality. Like all fairy tales there was an out for her and she left her glass slippers on the flight of stairs leading up to the prince’s palace. Only when I grew up did I ask…when every bit of the magic…the mice, the rat, the pumpkin, the pretty ball dress all went back to their origins, how did the glass slippers not disappear as well! But….it is a fairy tale that my mother told me, I then read it for myself and read it aloud to my daughter and then to my granddaughters with the rule clearly stated “Don’t ask questions!!”

Lily James is Cinderella in CINDERELLA , a live-action feature which brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually dazzling spectacle for a whole new generaton.

Much happens at the witching hour….in western thought, traditions and fantasy. The eve of a festival like Christmas gains great importance just as the 12 o’clock change of day when you can gain or lose a day of your life or the calendar. In India it is the dawn ruled by the sun that is the change of calendar and for us midnight is strictly sleep time or the time of evil doings. The hours between 3 and 5 in the wee hours of the morning are very important. It is called Brahma Muhurtham and the mind is said to be at its sharpest and most receptive state. Music, learning, meditation, yoga is practised in these hours for optimal results.

However, the modern world has adopted midnight as a time for new beginnings that bring with it hopes, wish fulfilment and a better tomorrow. We are in the last month of a nightmarish year and when 2020 comes to a close, we all hope for a better year ahead where some semblance of our routines will be restored.

Come 31st December, at ten minutes to twelve, we will look back on the Year of the Corona, heave a sigh of relief and look into the future. Most of us will evince a desperate desire to know what lays ahead when the clock strikes twelve. “Will there be rainbows day after day” asked the song Que sara sara.  New Year’s day will be a time to look forward and ask questions…Will I pass exams? Will I fall in love? Will I get married? Will I get a baby? Will I get a promotion/new job/change of place? Above all will I be prosperous and healthy is the prime query that will plague our minds.

So, the world will look into a crystal ball, or to astrology, soothsayers, fortune tellers, annual forecasts et al to shine a beam of light. Every New Year’s Day, Hope is promoted and expectations are somewhat answered by people who look into the future through various methods. People all over the world have always been fascinated by secrets held by the future. Mankind has always longed to unlock these mysteries. While some believe in fate and that the future is already written, there are others who believe that it depends on the individual’s actions. However, everybody has a sneaking desire to know what lies ahead… good or bad and how to cope with what lies ahead. When predictions of the future comes true even partially then astrology/ fortune telling gets validated.

Individuals and families have their own pet astrologer or fortune columnist whom they consult for problems in their lives. Our paternal uncle, Neelakantan was an astrologer and he practised the Solar method which at that time was done by just a handful of experts in India. Strangely enough, he was a Theosophist all his life and lived in the compound of the society in Adyar, Chennai. His wife, our aunt was famous in those circles as Seeta Teacher. She started her career as a teacher of science in the Theosophical Society’s Besant School. Later she became famous all over the world as a Theosophist evangelist, helped to establish their iconic library and headed the Youth Wing of the society well into her 70’s.

Many people came to consult him. However, he rarely looked into the charts of the clan members. Our father and younger uncle would regularly pester him with our horoscopes and ask for predictions. He would inevitably say, “Our great grandfather was a deeply religious and spiritual gentleman. He had accumulated enough good karma to last for the next seven generations. So, there is nothing to worry about”! When something did go wrong in our lives he would say, “I told you…I cannot predict for my family members. I am too close to all of you with pre-set impressions and knowledge. When it is family, the planets mist my eyes and I cannot read the charts realistically”!

I have met people, strangers, later in life who knew him and had benefitted positively from his reading of their charts. They were in awe of his knowledge. It was not ten to twelve that bugged him as much as the conjunction of the twilight time when Thursday evening darkened to meet the Friday. He used to have a cycle shop and at this time he would not sell even a tube or pin for a wheel from 10 minutes to six on a Thursday evening. He would chase away customers whatever their needs or emergency requirements.

He was called Neelu by his siblings and so all the nephews and nieces who were very close to him as he did not have children, called him Neelappa (Appa=father)! In my life he predicted many events that came to being. When my son was born, he cast his horoscope and said that this boy will become a lawyer or take up a career in a field that will be totally new and path breaking. My son used to call him BlueDad (Neel in Sanskrit means blue) and went into Animation, a totally new field at that time.

Ten minutes is an important time span in any situation. Today, ten minutes to twelve is the time when I get up to lay the table, heat the food and get ready for serving lunch. Ten minutes to twelve is the time when my husband calls out to me saying, “What are you doing? Come to bed” after he has had his two plus hours of sleep and my pottering around doing this and that and unable to fall asleep.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by our youngest school going blogger, Sanjana. Does she believe in Cinderella, fairy godmother’s, midnight alerts, I do not know. Maybe she will talk to us about why this time tag inspired her to suggest it…..And I am curious to see how the other bloggers handle this odd topic suggest. Do drop in to see what they have to say on the same topic every Friday. Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Raju.







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Today’s humans are social animals. Perhaps it was not always like this. Cavemen were obviously not. As social animals solitude is an unusual or even unnatural state. But looking at our origin, the boot is on the other leg. Solitude is not only not unnatural but a very natural state. In fact society is our own invention. It was created as a mechanism to remove our feeling of insecurity.

The famous behavioural scientist Maslow classified the hierarchy of human needs into 5 levels comprising physiological needs at the bottom, safety needs at the next level after Level 1 is achieved, Love and belonging (to the society) at the 3rd level, esteem (recognition from the society) at the 4th level and self-actualisation (giving back to the society) at the top level. One can see how the concept of society took root at level 2 and became a full blown concept at higher levels bringing full security to an individual as a member of the society.

Now the concept of society has developed to such a great extent that society drives all our thinking and provokes all our actions. Only solitary confinement under the law or totally lawless kidnap, results in solitude, apart from self-imposed solitude. The famous ‘Home but not Alone’ ad by a leading maker of Idiot boxes says it all. There is no chance for solitude if we have a cell phone or TV or even a radio. Internet and Digital world have destroyed the meaning of privacy as we have known and experienced. AI is beginning disrobe us totally without our being aware of it and keeping us in the dark about what is going on. Voice, music, and noise in any form destroys the state of solitude. The most influential distractor however is human vocal and instrumental emissions, followed by those of machines. This cacophony produces what we call the deafening white noise.

In fact we often feel happy if we are able to hear birds’ chatter undisturbed by human noise. Bird watching and bird listening are one of the most soothing gifts of nature to mankind. Angling or fishing is another solitary pursuit that encourages silence. Fortunately to my knowledge even Google has not developed any software to translate the utterances of animals, fish and birds into English or any other language. I believe this is also a research project for them. Imagine our concept of solitude if and when they succeed. Not only our state of solitude will go for a toss but the entire societal behaviour will undergo sea change.

The great advantage of solitude is that it enables a person to look inwards and listen to his own mind and inner voice. S/he can also switch it off if s/he makes a special effort. It happens when the body is in need of complete rest after being overstressed. The switch off occurs in deep sleep, even in a disturbing environment. This is indeed a great blessing given to only a few adults. Children are more fortunate. When we are not fast asleep or are merely resting, we are in an intermediate subconscious stage, experiencing a dream or partially alive to what is happening around us. The body is at rest but not the mind which keeps wandering.

Carl Jung the Swiss psychologist proposed and developed the concepts of extroverted versus introverted personality, sensation versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving. His analysis was taken forward by the mother daughter team of Myers and Briggs of US who designed the MBTI Test for classifying individuals into eight types (Now 16 types) for donning different roles in society. The MBTI test has found acceptance even today. It is said to provide an opportunity to tweak our personality to suit our assigned role. For the current topic, the point of interest is the contrast between introverts and extroverts. Introverts are shy, withdrawn, reserved persons with a limited spoken vocabulary who like to keep to themselves. They tend to seek solitude and introspection.  They don’t go out of their way to make friends. Extroverts are the party going type, always seeking company and most comfortable to be among friends. They find solitude boring and even stressful.

What are the future prospects of Solitude? It will be available only to those who understand its merit and seek it earnestly.  Corona has rudely shaken up the societal behaviour by confining people to their homes. One positive fallout may be to make us understand the virtues of solitude.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Ramana.

The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.







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“They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitu

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milkyway,

They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 

They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

This iconic lyric poem by William Wordsworth is his best-known work. The poem was inspired by an event on 15 April 1802 in which Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a “long belt” of daffodils. Written in 1804 by Wordsworth’s own account), it was first published in 1807 in Poems, in Two Volumes, and a revised version was published in 1815.

Mary, his wife contributed what Wordsworth later said were the two best lines in the poem,

“They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;”

Solitude can be a physical or mental condition. There is a marked difference between loneliness that is marked by a sense of isolation and solitude that is being alone without being lonely. Solitude can lead to self-introspection. Solitude and silence should be mates…but in today’s digital world, the external does intrude on you however much you may avoid it.

Sages in our traditions would spend time in meditation. They would retire to the forests and spend their time focussing on the Eternal Truth or Brahmam. Meditation on a daily basis was part of the ritual prescribed for all the stages of a human life. The prayers were taught to kids and then more complicated chants were gradually added to the repertoire. The chanting was a means to focus. The primordial chant of OM itself is an experience of solitude when it helps you to become one with the universe, nature and all its individual segments.

The drop of water on a lotus leaf is the common metaphor for solitude. Traditional practices of Vedantic life says that you need not leave home or renounce anything. You should come to that stage of mind where like a stem of lotus in a murky water pond, you rise above it and are untouched by it.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gave a wonderful analogy. Fire consumes ghee and whatever the amount of ghee poured on fire, it will be burnt, annihilated. However, when we pour a pot full of ghee all at once over a spark of fire, the flame will be extinguished. “The fire should first become a huge conflagration. Then we can pour the entire fuel of the world into it, and it shall burn it to ashes. Our fire of aspiration will then be capable—only then, and not before—to burn all the dirt and dust of this world even if it is thrown upon it in huge heaps. But when we are only a struggling spark who has not been able to take even the first step in yoga, if the whole weight of the world is to sit upon us, what will happen? We cannot face it. We will be crushed to dust”.

The older I get, the more I like my own company. I do not miss going out, or eating out, or missing other company. Yes!! I am in constant touch with the world outside through gadgets and media. So I do not feel lonely. I am also in interaction with my husband…and my moments of mediation are when I stand on my terrace and see my plants, feel the sun and hear and watch the birds flying, calling to each other and roosting in the trees. I love to see water flow that enhances the feeling of solitude. I enjoy the movement of my fingers as they knit or crochet creating form, structure, shape and comfort. That is a great way of meditating.

Finally, I think, solitude is what people want when they say “I need my space!” Space goes beyond the physical surroundings to a psychological, mental solitude that allows me to breathe without another’s presence or influence. All religions and cultures have talked about solitude. Prophets have withdrawn into solitude be it the ancient Rishis of Bharat/India or Moses, or Mohammed or Jesus. Buddha of course is the immediate connect in the mind’s eye to solitude.

This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Ramana.

The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Raju.

Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they say about Power.







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