Tuesday, April 27, 2004


The concept of divinity or the Brahaman, in the Advaita school of though can be summarized in three words - Sat, Chid, Ananda - Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute. No form, no attributes nor any personification is admitted in this conceptualization of the only reality of existence. This is so, because form, attributes and personification can only exist or indeed can be perceived as relative to something else that also independently exists, thereby defeating the concept of the one Absolute, the Brahaman.

The Advatins, or the followers of this monoistic school of thought, hold the creation in its entirety, as an elaborate illusion (Maya), that goes through a perpetual lifecycle of waxing and waning. Creation emanates out from this absolute, exists and eventually merges back into this absolute. And then starts over again.

A student of this science is told that the realization of this Brahaman that is all pervading, can be achieved through a process of progressive rejection of everything transient or Anitya, that the mighty Maya, assails our senses with. This process culminates once complete realization or enlightenment is achieved. (Or maybe you get wholeheartedly tired of this affair and go fishing, whichever happens earlier).

The Dvaita Vedantist or the Dualist approaches the concept of creation in his own unique way. An all powerful Personal God or the Ishwara, forms the core of this school of thought. A definite form, a definite set of attributes including those of omnipotence and infinite mercy is associated with Ishwara, to which the individual soul (or Jiva) is bound through an unbreakable bond, in which the Jiva's existence is dependent entirely on the Brahaman. Think of the relation of pixel on the screen of a CRT to the cathode ray gun behind, its something like that, only lot more confusing.

To the dualist, absolute devotion and love (Bhakti) enables a soul to progressively reject all lower form of attachments, until the love for the Lord becomes the sole reason for existence or rather existence itself. This absolute love (Para-bhakti), is in itself, both the means and the end. With true love, claim the students of the Dvaita, comes true knowledge (PS: that sounded like the dialogue from the Spiderman movie, where Uncle Ben tells Peter - With great powers comes great responsibility.;). True love and true knowledge is unencumbered by any attachment to the Anitya.

This concept of Anitya weighs heavily on my mind today, for many things in life are missed only in their passing. With that comes the realization even if one were to try to hang onto a receding tide with the tightest of hugs and promise to never let go, one would only be left clutching thin air.

Alone, wet and with burning eyes....

Friday, April 23, 2004


I would have never dreamt, when I picked up my first book on Vedanta, about 10 years back, that by the time I crossed 30, I would be become a master of Advaita and Dvaita Vedanta, a Zen Buddhist master and an authority of Biblical scriptures.

Well, it is good that I didn't dream such dreams for none of that really happened! ;) Instead, I find myself confused as ever and ignorant as ever about these mysteries that fascinate me so. The more I read, the more I become aware of my own utter ignorance and the more I get humbled by the heights of consciousness that our great men had reached.

I also find myself given to random ramblings these days as exemplified by my last piece on the confused toe! So, I felt a pedicure of the toe (by the way of giving some hint of what stray thoughts were running through my mind), would be appropriate at this point of time. Anyway, here goes..

Project for a moment, if you will, the existence of the puddle to that of your own and project the sea as your creator. Let the toe playact the part of your consciousness, your inner urge to find an anwer to your existence. Think, briefly, of the monoistic and dualistic schools of thought and I shall wager the existential angst of the puddle would appear much closer than you would have imagined.

Deep, Huh ?!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Woes of a Confused Toe

There have been a couple of related questions that have continually vexed me for quite sometime now. These questions are: If something hasn't been proven yet, does it mean it is not there? By the same token, if you want something to be true, and want it really really hard, does a merciful providence interven each time to make it so?

For both of these questions history appears to reply with a resounding Negative. Which, frankly, doesn't help much. For if life were really simple, anything which you couldn't see wouldn't be there and you could as well get along with life with the smugness of successful palm reader. Life being what it is, it is rare that there are easy answers to anything, at least until you have things figured out.

Take this as an example: While on a lazy walk by the beach, if you were to see a clear pool of water that seemed placid in its own rhythm, just by the seaside, would you not wonder whether this pool of water is not somehow related to the vast sea just by its side. Was this pool of water left behind by a receding tide or more interestingly was there some kind of underground pathway that linked the pool to the sea. Was it really true that the seemingly independent wavelets on the placid surface of the pool were in fact in perfect timing with the crashing sea waves just a few steps away? Did that mean the pool existed because the sea also did?

At this point, if you were a normal human being, you would probably drop this idea altogether and get into the more pressing business of enjoying a walk on the sea front or taking a swim on the sea. And you would be right in doing so.

However, if you had a few loose wires and short circuits on the top floor, the existential question of the tiny pool would probably overwhelm you. Random thoughts would fire-up, lighting the insides of your brain like a roman candle (I don't know what that is, but Roman Candle seemed the right thing to say :). You would find yourself in an uplifted state asking yourself deep questions such as:

Was the independent identity of the pool in fact indistinguishable from the overpowering identity of the sea to which its very existence depended? So if you actually dipped your big toe into the pool, were you in fact dipping it onto the sea? And as the existence of the pool depended on the sea, should the pool feel an sense of undying gratitude to the sea? Should it aspire to become one with it?

As the cold water touched your confused toe, a far more interesting question would come up on your mind: Could the converse of your theory that you had propound so far could also be true?

Come to think of it, assuming there was a underwater pathway that connected the sea to a shallow area on the beach, could the sea keep itself from filling that area up and thereby converting it into the pool in which your toe was dipped? So, you would conclude with some self satisfaction, that the existence of the pool was not just a sufficient proof that sea existed, it was in fact a necessary one.

However, all this theorizing doesn't prove things either way. One could sit down and theorize away to eons without being able to conclusively know what the truth was.

It only ends up confusing your toe, which by now, would be blue with cold and may have even attracted some inquisitive crab.

Afterall, the puddle may be the unintentional result of rains! Random, arbitrary, without a reason....

Monday, April 19, 2004

Porpoise Pretensions

Mercury, in Bangalore, has taken it upon itself to challenge Tenzing in terms of scaling new heights this summer. As the sun bore down relentlessly yesterday, taking a dip in the swimming pool appeared to be the best course of action. In a swimming pool, I never swim, I just splash water all around and pretend to be a porpoise (talk of delusions of grandeur;). The only thing that I enjoy more then splashing water by myself is splashing water on tiny kids whose over-anxious parents ritually drag them to the pool in order to "remove their fear of water". I think I created a small army of little splashers yesterday and they out-splashed me thoroughly. Well, all smiles are born sweet, but the smiles of children are just divine.

In the evening the PM called me. My delusions of grandeur are finally paying off :)

Friday, April 16, 2004

To Romance a Mocking Bird

For three weeks now I have noticed that strange look in you, as you regard me silently. Questioning. Challenging. Mocking....

You dare me to believe that I know you, that I have always known you. And in my naivety I start believing so, only to fall victim to one of those surprises that you repeatedly spring on me - those that leave me questioning all that I have ever believed. All these years that I have spent trying to knowing you, trying so hard to understand you - suddenly flash before my eyes. And I wonder.

I wonder whether I ever made any headway. Am I still where I started, still clawing at thin air? Like Alice in world behind the looking glass have I been running the hardest I could, just so that I could remain where I was? If my weariness were to overcome me, would you let me fall behind? Would you not reach out and pull me in, at least for a change? Or would you just keep smiling at me silently as I tumbled away into the darkness? Yes, as you can see for yourself, I really do wonder.

How could you have failed to notice the impact that you had on me since I started this journey? You have inspired me so often and in so many ways. So often you have impelled me to excel, to strive to be better than I am, to reach out. In your own non-judgemental way, you have lighted my path so very frequently, so very unobtrusively. Can you really fault me for trying to reach out to you, when you have meant so much? And what of those few times when you had forsaken me, brushed me away? You had to be blind not to see what that did to me. The walls of my world came crashing down every single time that happened. Every single such instance left me devastated. At least until you condescend to steady me again.

Dear Dharma, it has been three weeks since I was asked whether I know you - a period that has been spent in a whole lot of soul-searching. I looked deep inside me to find some answers, some clues. I called out my inner monkey to come out and shed some light, all it did was write the last few paragraphs ;) But, truth be said, I still am trying put my thoughts together.

One thing's for sure, dear friend, I ain't letting you go. Ever. You just mean too much to me.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Seven of Nine

If I were ever asked to choose my favorite character in Star Trek, (of course besides Kirk and Spock, my eternal heroes) it would certainly be Seven of Nine. While her looks are certainly captivating (and is an obvious reason for me making a post exclusively for her), what make her fascinating to me is her complex chartecter. Hidden behind all the those years as a Borg as the tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix one and beyond the cries of all the millions of life forms that she has been responsible in assimilating, she remained the shy little girl peeping into the bridge of her parents' vessel as they continued in their disastrous voyage tracking a Borg cube.

Seven has often shown that she is capable of more compassion then the rest of Voyagers crew, the two incidents that touched me most was, one, when she gave the Doctor her fan mail at a time when his ego had taken a beating and the second was when she comforted Neelix with the words that "Guilt is a difficult but an useful emotion".

After all what is it that makes us humans - Is it not our compassion, our own individual voyage towards perfection as we attempt to learn from each experience that we assimilate? And finally does the character of Seven not represent something ethereal, something vulnerable yet defiant, logical yet compassionate, brilliant yet beautiful, strong without being agressive. I guess if you are real lucky you get to meet someone like that in real life! I just wish paramount made this character smile a little more often in the ST:VOY series.

If she were real I would have loved to meet her ;)
When I had posted this in the Star Trek news group sometimes back, I amazed at the number of responses it got. Someone even said that I appeared to be smitten by Seven. Ha Ha. I wonder what to make of that!!! In any case this is the last Star Trek blog, at least for some time.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Star Trek : A Second Look

I have always been a Star Trek fanatic, I am sure it is quite obvious from my previous post. My brother, is however, a little more measured in his praises, likes and dislikes. A few years back after I had just finished watching for the third or fourth time the re-run of a Next Generation episode, where Picard is stuck in a lift with kids, I gave him a long lecture on why I was so smitten by Star Trek and that there was so much to learn. He listened to me with a thoughtful look and offered no comments.

Finally, I asked him: "Well, what do you think of Star Trek?"

He smiled a little and said, "Every time I look at Picard, I get the sinking feeling that in 24th century they might be able to go where no man has gone before, but they are not going to be able to stop people from loosing hair!" (The top of Jean Luc's head is bereft of hair, and is shiny like a billiard ball)

Like I have always said, my brother is the one with the brains in the family :)

Friday, April 02, 2004

Fascinations: Star Trek

It was a hot day in the African plains about a million years ago. An ape had just lost the last of his teeth from gnawing at coconuts for hours daily to get at the gooey white stuff inside. He picked up the rock he was sitting on for the gnawing ritual and smashed it on to the coconut, with astoundingly spectacular results. With that stoke he had given birth to the Stone Age.

(Of course, it was just a matter of chance that he smashed a stone on the coconut, he could have as well smashed a coconut on to a stone, then it is possible that the first of the ages would be a coconut age ;)! Maybe that's what happened in some alternative timeline. I am sure they have a fascinating history there.).

In any case, the journey of humankind over the millennia has been all about pushing the boundaries and extending the limits. True, the journey has been far from being an ideal one so far, many wrong turns have been taken and too few lessons have been learnt. Still there have always been those, like our friend the ape, who have strove to rise over their circumstance, be it through science or through arts or through any other means. In that process, those are the people who have shaped our history, our psyche and even our conscience. The innovators have made the world what it is today.

My love affair with Star Trek started almost a decade and three quarters ago, when a fledgling Doordarshan, in absence of locally produced TV software decided to air a series that had been reasonably successful in the US in the past. I became addicted almost immediately. What fascinated me most about Kirk, Spock, Bones and the gang was the spirit of exploration that literally extended to Space - the final frontier. The original Star Trek series, has often been called a sci-fi version of old western cowboy movies. To an extent, that may be true, but the fact remains that it advertently or otherwise, preached a message beyond the run-of-mill good vs evil story. Kirk's never-say-die attitutude and strong sense of ownership, that came out in almost all of those early episodes before political correctness crept slowly into the stories, had left an enduring impression on my young brain.

To me Star Trek is about stretching your limits, it is about team-spirit and loyality, it is about being always ready to learn and finally it is about prevailing over seemingly impossible odds and forging ahead. Which is what has kept me a loyal Trekkie all these years. The prospects of being in the stars, of flying, truly mesmerizes me.

As a kid I had memorized the Star Terk theme monologue which they would play in every episode:

Space-the final frontier. These are the voyages of Starship Enterprise. Its five year mission -
to explore strange new world, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!

These lines make me a kid all over again, they transport me from the practicality of normal day existence to my very own dream universe where it is alright to aspire to boldly go where no man has gone before.