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.
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 kebaad 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?
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.
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!!”
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.
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.
“They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude”
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.
There was a time in India when the automatic primogeniture choice of the king was not in force. How the new ruler was chosen was very interesting. When the King died, the main temple elephant was given a garland which it carried in its trunk and went around the city. Suddenly it would garland a person…nobody knew why…and that person automatically became King. It was accepted as a Divine choice.
The Mahabharata talks about an ancestor who fell in love with a fisherwoman who was rowing him across the river. She bargained that if she married the lovesick king, her son would be King even though he had sons already from the reigning consort. This was the beginning of a series of events that led to a dirty, 18 days war that annihilated the family factions leaving only one grandchild to rule. The Bhagavad Gita is part of this ancient epic which has sections that lay down the rules and regulations of an ideal king.
The Ramayana also talks about Ram Rajya…the rule of Rama. After the destruction of the Rakshasa clan headed by Ravana, the evil ten headed despot, Rama returns to Ayodhya…that has been in the news so much recently in India…and establishes his reign based on equality, justice and Dharma. The relevance of the important values and concepts of the Ramyana is the guidelines set for the familial, social and political spheres of the modern world
Rama Rajya is an everlasting ideal. It denotes a harmonious pursuit of the four goals – dharma-righteous duty; artha-material prosperity; kama-legitimate pleasures; and moksha-spiritual liberation. Rama Rajya is as appropriate for the different modern times of jet, nuclear and astronaut ages as it was for a world of bows, arrows and horse carriages.
Several thousand years have passed and people still remember the reign of Sri Rama as an ideal one. The expression and idea of Rama Rajya is held sacred in India. Rama Rajya denotes the reign of King Rama and stands for good administration, material prosperity and moral and spiritual well-being of a nation. For the people of Ayodhya Ram Rajya, was like Bhuloka Vaikuntam- heaven on earth, the kingdom of God on earth.
Sage Valmiki, the poet author of both the Ramayana and Mahabarata describes Rama Rajya at the end of the Pattabhishekam sargam, No. 128—the last sarga of the Yuddha Kanda in the Valmiki Ramayanam. The poet says that there was peace and prosperity everywhere. All the citizens were happy and content. There were no untimely death, people lived up to their full life span and free from all diseases and grief. The seasons never failed, the land yielded crops in abundance and the trees blossomed perennially with flowers and fruits. The winds were always pleasant and there were no devastating floods or cyclones. Trade flourished and there was plenty and more importantly, equity. As there was no one in the land who was needy, there was no need to give charity. There were no thefts anywhere and there were no signs of internal or external trouble. In Ram Rajya, Valmiki concludes, the idea of Bhuloka Vaikuntam became a reality.
The Ideal Ruler
The qualities of an ideal ruler that Sri Rama possessed were balam or strength; dhrti or courage; sthairyam or stability and firmness in resolve; viryam or prowess; pratapa for valour; daya as compassion; samatvam in equanimity; and sauryam displayed as heroism. Sri Rama was called the Maryada Purushottama, one who lived his life according to the rules and limits, boundaries, restrictions of Dharma. He inspired all his subjects to be virtuous, noble and truthful.
Sri Rama was well-versed in the lofty principles of Rajya Sastra . He was guided by the wise advice of his Guru,the great sage Vasishta. The sages were learned, spiritual and wise men who advised the kings, but were not personally involved in the administration. They were detached and humane, very objective and mentors who gave sagacious advice and guidance.
Raja Rama dedicated himself to ruling the country. He was a beloved king, a benefactor of his subjects. He was always concerned about the welfare of the citizens and assiduous about protecting them and keeping them happy. He considered it as the worst curse if he were to fail in his paramount duty as a king. It is interesting to note what Veda Vyasa said: ‘ Raja kalasya karanam'(MB 12-69 -79)- ‘the King is responsible for the time’ implying that a ruler is responsible either for the good or for the bad condition of the nation at a particular time or period.
The administration in Rama Rajya
Rama was helped by ministers who were men of integrity and capability, unequalled in bravery. They had sound knowledge of the nation and its people and their needs, were alert and always available to attend to the affairs of the king and kingdom. The success of a king depended on the wise advice of His Council of Ministers.
The treasury was in very trustworthy and capable hands. Income was above expenditure and the system of taxation was not a burden on the people. Law and order was well established as honesty and dharma formed the basis of all action. Justice was equitable. There was no fear of adharma and people lived a peaceful life.
Heritage buildings and places of worship were protected. The environment was given particular attention; water resources were regularly cleaned and maintained and agricultural needs were diligently attended to.
Scholars were respected and rewarded. In a society where there was peace and plenty, art and culture flourished. All the departments of administration and governance were well managed and grievances of the people were promptly addressed with due concern. Every policy of the kingdom was dedicated to public welfare and people’s service.
People in Rama Rajya
In Rama Rajya, there was only one caste—humanity. All sections of people were treated with dignity, irrespective of their profession. Liberty, equality and fraternity were adhered to. Hence, the people of the kingdom were all happy and contented in the pursuit of their own duty/dharmas that was aimed at for their own good and the good of the society as a whole. It was a culture where emphasis was on individual duties rather than individual rights. The beautiful concept of Rama Rajya was that each person carried out his or her individual duties which resulted in the rights of every person in society being guaranteed. As all were in harmony with the natural laws and the forces of nature, Nature showered blessings on the people and nation.
There was a time when the King would dress up as a commoner and go at dusk into the marketplace and listen to the common man’s voices. He could hear their problems and complaints, the issues that his people faced and set about remedying them. This was his connection to the grass roots of his nation.
Ram Rajya got lost in the mists of time. The thirst for power, ownership, subjugation and greed took over the psyche of the ruler. He became isolated in his palace. He surrounded himself with sycophants, debauching influences and habits and gradually, the King became just a figurehead whose Ministers and family members exploited to build up their own selfish interests. Class structures came in and the poor were exploited, denuded and kept in ignorance and darkness.
Democracy was a western concept that India adopted with a dream of establishing a society of equity and equanimity. The Democratic model of the West was stuffed and packed into the framework of the Indian ruling system. There were lofty ideals of the poor and downtrodden being uplifted…but the laws enacted made the class structure more deeply entrenched. The rich became richer…the poor and needy became poorer and needier. Democracy became a chess board for the elite to play their chessmen according to different gambits.
All is not gloom…we can see a great deal of efforts being made to balance inequities. Education has helped people come above and way beyond their abject poverty levels. Yet, the political games that are held for the seizure of power and rule makes you wonder whether this democracy idea is in anyway viable.
Democratic leaders of third world countries need to focus on food, shelter, health, education and sustainability in terms of employment. However, in all the hurrah of power and success, our leaders lose sight of the woods for the trees. Their focus, in many countries, is on their image, their universal standing…something they achieved through the vote of the commoners in their nation. Today, in India Ram Rajya has also become a tool in the hands of manipulators who present the facade of the ideal while losing sight of the actual import of an ideal rule.
Can we relook at the concept of Ram Rajya where there is no need at all? The Ramayana’s glory lies in its power to inspire us to broaden our consciousness from individual needs and demands to the larger benefit of humanity. It transports the mundane mind from a narrow human perspective to the human-divine paradigm. The Ramayana is an exploration of this voyage from the mundane to the spiritual plane of existence.
This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Raju Natarajan. I wanted to shine a beacon on an important part of the Indian dream…..the draem of Ram Rajya!
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 Democracy.
Let me take a position right away. Modern democracies are not a patch on the first direct democracy practised in the City state of Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. That old model had only one objective: the welfare of the common man with his direct participation. He was a strong stakeholder. It was initiated at an age when business sharks, armament industry, banking moguls, Oil cartels and drug mafia didn’t exist. Nor did self-serving politicians and their astronomical electoral funds and the financial clout of their patronisers come into being. Modern democracy we know demands a huge treasure chest back-up that alone can assure a nomination and 50% chance of electoral success by hook or by crook.
It seems to me that Democracy is now used as a brand name to market credibility in the world of politics. The success game in the marketing world is to spread a proprietary name as a ‘mantra’ citing the superior quality of commodities and services offered under that banner so that an average buyer will blindly prefer everything sold by that proprietary name. That is how branding works by and large. That is how the power to push products is acquired.
The brand can do no wrong. Examples are P&G, Unilever etc. This business model works beautifully on the back of ads splashed in visual and social media who also go all the way laughing to the bank. The consumer rarely questions the price break up of ‘ethical products’ offered by a strong brand. He is blissfully unaware of the extent of advertising and packaging costs (that don’t add any value to the product) included in the price of products sold to him. For cosmetic products this component could be anything up to 90% of the price paid by him! Patent of drugs is another legitimate right to loot. Recently a Delhi Court has ruled that the expression ‘Nation Wants to Know’ is an exclusive right of a private TV channel!
A similar phenomenon is happening in the practice of most democracies. The packaging and advertising costs are rising. Not just time slots, but whole news channels are available on hire. Paid journalism is rampant. Campaign expenses are rising from one election to another. So are governance costs, while tangible benefits to citizens are diminishing. In financial management of democracies, taxes rise to meet the growing expenses since cutting the latter to match available resources means shooting oneself in the foot. (I hear that a certain defeated President will need to nurse his feet for many years particularly for trimming taxes at the wrong end.)
Like it or not, in today’s world, democracy has clicked as a credible brand and is a clean winner as a form of governance. Everybody swears by it. Everywhere everyone demands their individual rights in the name of democracy, never mind their duties. In country after country there are outcries for change of regime and political leadership. Corona has worked as a catalyst for this demand. When change finally happens the disenchanted electorate discovers that it is only old wine in a new bottle!
The so called certified democratic countries mock at others as uncivilised and brutal. Yet they selectively go to bed with some of the worst tyrants provided it suits their self-interest, while assuming high moral grounds if a country acts independently of their ‘guidance’, never mind it’s adherence to democracy.
In a modern democracy the ordinary citizen’s role begins and ends on the Election Day. He casts his vote if he feels like it. Then he vanishes into thin air until it is election time again. This is hardly a participatory form of governance. Ironically it is a form in which all vested interests gang up for mutual benefit. These interests are politicians, big business and bureaucracy aided and abetted by lobbyists operating in the garb of legal, medical and business professionals. Judiciary being a product of this environment is also not above this collaboration. Political parties themselves decide the rules of governance generally by mutual consent for mutual benefits.
In some countries the winner takes it all, under the system of First past the post. In others it is a formula of proportional representation or sharing of spoils. Some countries have Presidential form of government and others have what is called the Westminster form with the PM elected by the legislatures. In both systems the contesting candidates make holy promises to work for the common man and the country, only to break those promises the next day and every day after election. This approach has greatly widened the gap between the very rich and the very poor and in turn nullified the slogan of equal opportunities for all in education, health care, employment and social justice. Have money, go places. Race and gender discrimination have remained no matter which party has been in power. Even a basic step of reaching education to every door step for a nominal cost has not been attempted despite revolutionary changes in technology. This could have made education affordable to all. Only Corona has compelled elementary moves in that direction.
The only argument in favour of democracy is that other systems are worse. Bad is the enemy of worse. This explains the political conflicts among countries following different systems. The aim should have been to convert bad into good instead of wasting energy and resources on fighting with ‘worse’. Is that possible? The intuitive answer is ‘Yes’.
The first baby step is mass education. The second is to banish election campaigns. Fortunately in the Internet era and post corona environment the common man has the chance to act wisely if not exposed to and influenced by political propaganda of lies by vested interests.
Next I believe, the party system, party cadre, professional politician and dynastic succession are all evils and must go. The current 2 or multiparty system is the first enemy of a democracy as it skews and corrupts an individual’s judgement of right and wrong in the name of alignment with party’s views.
Every candidate must contest elections only on personal record of service and standing. Fly by night operators should be kept away. All the successful candidates should then elect the leader for governing undisturbed for a specific term but not for a second term. He/she should form a team of ministers comprising not more 5% of the elected candidates. The remaining members should vote freely in parliament based on the merit of the proposal. The defeat of a proposal should not lead to the fall of the government. Unfortunately only an enlightened dictator can usher in this drastic change.
Modern democracy is too weak to pull itself out of the rut and rot. For this reason we may have to look in the right direction for a new dawn. I hardly need to say in which direction the sun rises.
This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by me.
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 have to say about Democracy.
There is an ancient chant in the Tamizh Veda Marai tradition. These are called Thirumurai Padikangal and was composed by the Naalvar or four famous poet saints of Tamizh spiritual and literary tradition.
I have been chanting a few of these for more than a decade. Among these is a chant by Thirugnanasambandar dedicated to Swarnathapaeswarar (Siva) in Thiruchithaimoor, Tanjore District.
Suddenly, after I moved to Bangalore, bees started coming in my living space….. including a humongous hive outside my bedroom window. They had to remove it twice.
Wasps and bees fly into my apartment regularly and then I discovered that temple of Siva is famous for its bee hives that completely cover the ceiling of the Mani Mandapam and everyday the Aarthi is shown to the hived ceiling by the priest. So, is my chanting of this padikam dedicated to the temple got something to do with the bee connect in my life?
Many may not connect the dots…but for me something to do with bees keeps coming into my life…this forward from my dear friend Rajam Subramaniam just reinforces my faith in the divine connection. I have twice been stung by the wasps!
TELLING THE BEES
There was a time when almost every rural British family who kept bees followed a strange tradition.
Whenever there was a death in the family, someone had to go out to the hives and tell the bees of the terrible loss that had befallen the family.
Art: The Bee Friend, a painting by Hans Thoma (1839–1924)
Failing to do so often resulted in further losses such as the bees leaving the hive, or not producing enough honey or even dying.
Traditionally, the bees were kept abreast of not only deaths but all important family matters including births, marriages, and long absence due to journeys. If the bees were not told, all sorts of calamities were thought to happen. This peculiar custom is known as “telling the bees”.
The practice of telling the bees may have its origins in Celtic mythology that held that bees were the link between our world and the spirit world. So if you had any message that you wished to pass to someone who was dead, all you had to do was tell the bees and they would pass along the message.
The typical way to tell the bees was for the head of the household, or “goodwife of the house” to go out to the hives, knock gently to get the attention of the bees, and then softly murmur in a doleful tune the solemn news.
Little rhymes developed over the centuries specific to a particular region. In Nottinghamshire, the wife of the dead was heard singing quietly in front of the hive,
“The master’s dead, but don’t you go; Your mistress will be a good mistress to you.”
In Germany, a similar couplet was heard,
“Little bee, our lord is dead; Leave me not in my distress”.
But the relationship between bees and humans goes beyond superstition. It’s a fact, that bees help humans survive. 70 of the top 100 crop species that feed 90% of the human population rely on bees for pollination.
Without them, these plants would cease to exist and with it all animals that eat those plants. This can have a cascading effect that would ripple catastrophically up the food chain.
Losing a beehive is much worse than losing a supply of honey. The consequences are life threatening.
The act of telling the bees emphasizes this deep connection humans share with the insect.
This is almost a non-topic for me. No reflection on the person who has suggested it. I find it difficult to gather the necessary motivation to develop it since I do not eat a normal dinner these days.
It was not always like this. We not only have a frugal dinner in the good old days, but had to host and attend dinner parties as a part of my organisational culture. If I didn’t, I would have been an outcaste. To trick the heavy intake at these dinners, I always had my minimal food at home before leaving for a dinner party, or before my guests arrived. I nibbled at the snacks with my juice and minimally loaded my plate and pretended to eat, spending my time in pointless conversations, before dumping the plate. Generally dinner was served 2 hours after the party began. This was always a painful waiting time for me. The wait for dinner depends not so much on how many hours it is before dinner, as how long it is after lunch and what kind of lunch you have eaten.
Unlike most westerners who are happy with coffee and sandwiches, Indians and the French are very particular about their lunch which is their main meal of the day. But unlike the French, Indians are generally fast eaters. Most Indians are also snackers in the evenings and for them dinner is only a formality. After heavy snacks (also called Tiffin) people prefer to skip dinner altogether.
You may have heard of the dabbawallahs of Mumbai who for a century and more have unfailingly carried home lunch to thousands of office workers from the highest to the lowest ranks, day after day in lunch boxes kept warm inside an exclusive numbered outer container provided by the the porters’ cooperative society. These porters were the first manual equivalent of google location maps with optimal mix of modes of transport. They delivered food packages like the postal system.
A man collects the lunch at your doorstep which could be upto 30 km from your office, and takes it to the nearest suburban rail station. The boxes are sorted out there and placed in crates, based on the station they have to be unloaded. Teams of men carry these lots and unload them at various stations.
Another team then sorts out the boxes according to the streets that they are destined for. Finally the boxes are carried by specially designed push carts and push bikes to individual offices and delivered on time to each individual ion each floor. When the lunch has been consumed, empty containers are delivered back to homes for reversing the same cycle. Astonishingly there are no errors committed in this whole operation although Mumbai is a sprawling overcrowded city with huge traffic congestion. The Dabba wallahs’ Cooperative collects a very affordable fee and distributes it to individual members. The system is fair equitable to all. No strikes, no fights. A model of decent democracy, unlike what we are witnessing elsewhere.
The performance of the dabba wallahs has attracted world wide attention for their error free Six Sigma performance. The workers are from rural areas, wear white dhoti, white caps and simple slippers. They have very little formal education. In days when low price hygienic eateries did not exist, office workers had the luxury of eating home cooked healthy lunch catering to individual taste. What is more, they paid very little for this service. For them it was 2 hours or less to lunch from the time their household prepared it. There were no strikes or disruptions except when train services were disrupted.
Now of course with WFH in place SWIGGY, Zomato etc have taken over. Home has become office and there are no home lunches or dinners. Dabba wallahs who provided great service for a normal price are now in distress and can’t easily earn their own lunch.
What a blow Corona has delivered!I feel sad that every topic for me descends to Corona finally. Like others I am waiting for the clouds to lift.
This is my take on this week’s Friday blog post topic suggested by Maria.
The other bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah, Gaelikka, Srinivas and Padmini. You can checkout their menu @