pippala leaf

February 11, 2006

“We are not going to gain anything out of his death"

Filed under: Culture & Society — MBN @ 1:47 pm

This family choose to forgive than going for “an eye for an eye”.

Regarding capital punishment , in certain countries, relatives of the victim have opportunity to witness the execution. It is difficult to comprehend the benefits of such practice, since witnessing death can be more traumatizing. It possiby could not provide any long term relief for the victim’s family. What could be the basic principle behind this legal provision?

Postscript: – It is interesting to know that capital punishment was abolished in the princely state Travancore, India, in 1946. It was re-introduced in 1950 after independence.


January 29, 2006

Thanmathra (Molecule)

Filed under: Movie — MBN @ 11:44 pm

There was nothing extraordinary about Rameshan Nair’s life. He had similar dreams and ambitions of any middle class government servant. His goals in life revolved around his family. He was blessed with a loving wife and two smart kids. He knew that his dreams had every possibility of their fulfillment. He was so sure and he was so happy. So was his family. Then it came, with kind of foot steps of a cat, silent and sneaky. Though he was little anxious, it amused him when he forgot his childhood sweetheart’s nickname, because she was his lost love. Then it struck. Struck hard with a kind of forcefulness of thunderbolt. It took away his small world, twisted it with tragic consequences. And he was ruthlessly unaware of that. He did not see his little world tumble like a pack of cards. He did not care and in a most cruel way he forgot his family, his dreams and even himself. He did not respond, his mind did not melt at his family’s plight. But then, he had no mind, because he had Alzheimer’s.

Blessy crafted this movie with precision and well defined craftsmanship. The narrative style and realism he portray in each frame brings an undeniable identification of events that had happened or have been happening in and around our family or friends or neighbour. The film brings to mind a very forceful reminder about the uncertainty and transient nature of our life and how precious is each moment of our life while we have it. Above all this movie has tremendous academic value. Social awareness of this disease is very much absent and many misjudge Alzheimer’s disease for lunacy.

Total credit goes to director Blessy. His films may result in the resurrection of parallel cinema in Malayalam. Performance of the entire cast was remarkable, especially performance of Master Arun as Rameshan Nair’s son. He is natural. The main character Rameshan Nair, played brilliantly by Mohanlal, is undoubtedly his best performance to date. Meera Vasudevan, as his wife, is also outstanding.

Thanmatra is a remarkable film that moves you and leaves in your mind a very long lasting impact. This classic film should not be missed by those who love Malayalam movies.

January 5, 2006

Who is qualified to be a priest ?

Filed under: Religion — MBN @ 5:37 am

The current controversy over the appointment of non-Brahmins as priests in temples is a classic example of distorting basic principles of Hinduism (Upanishad principles) for vested interests.

Regarding caste and duties this is what Bhagavad Gita says:

caturvarnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
tasya kartaram api mam viddhyakartaram avyayam

The four varnas have been set up by Me considering the natural gunas
and works of everyone;
know Me to be the author of those varnas;
know Me also as the changeless one,
who changes or eliminates them according to each one’s desires. (Bh.Gita 4:13)

From Bhagavad Gita (Sivaravindam Mahabhashyam-commentary):..all are subject to nautral gunas and helplessly working according to their gunas…. The Gita declares that the division of the human race into these four varnas also is on the basis of these gunas and works. The Lord here completely refutes the idea that birth alone is the basis of the division of varnas. If birth (janma) had to be given a place in the scheme of varnas, the term “guna–karma–vibhagasah” could have been substituted, without any difficulty, by “janma-karma-vibhagasah”….One would be subject to it (law of varna) or free from it only according to one’s gunas and works and the power of the Lord which bestows appropriate results…It has been made clear earlier that one who performs works as yagna, maintaining the spirit of enquiry into the Truth and dedication to the Divine, can gradually change the composition of his gunas and even totally discard them. Hence in this very life, one can change over from sudra to a brahmana or vice versa or, discarding the guna – structure, become a sthitapranja, beyond the four varnas and asramas”.

January 2, 2006

"….we kill for peace.."

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 12:40 am

A Man lived here for some years. During that period, among other things, he came to thought of a piece of land as his own and he imagined he would inherit it forever. He argued, fought and killed for that piece of land. Sometime he won and sometime he did not. And after some years he died, and lo, he could not take with him the land he fought for. The land, and all other things that he considered his own, based on which he defined himself, had taken away from him on his death. Now with whom he would fight ?

He would argue with God (if such a being exits): “Those were mine..my wife..my kid..my family…my land…those were mine..You gave it to me”

God would reply: “Just your imagination dear. Everything is mine as always”.

Vengeance breeds vengeance breeds vengeance……and at the end no one remains.

Those were the thoughts surfaced in mind when I watched Spielberg’sMunich

December 23, 2005

Bookshelf ….Non-Fiction…2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 11:54 pm

An odyssey of an orphaned Vietnamese boy, Quang Van Nguyen, set during the time of French and American war that ravaged Vietnam. Quang was adopted by a Vietnamese monk who practiced an ancient form of Chinese medicine and manages to raise him against all odds. He became his father and mentor. He imparts in Quang the esoteric wisdom and knowledge of the ancient world. Through the eyes of young Quang the reader could see life in it’s innocence and simplicity, also in it’s arrogance and tragedy. In the book reader could witness the end of an old civilization and it’s transition to the new world. One would see the simplicity of the former and the complexity of the latter. This is also a story of magic, sorcery and spirituality – a real life Harry Potter story. In this book the reader would meet a fascinating world of magic, sorcery, spirits, ghosts and spiritual giants. Some of the readers might reject them as superstitious. But as I see it, the possibilities of mind, it’s potential and capacity are endless. It had been studied and mastered by ancient Buddhist and Hindu yogis and sages, and yet to discover by modern science. The life of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Paramahamsa Yogananda are ample proof for this. This story is also about Vietnam, it’s culture, it’s people, the war, their pain and longing. This extraordinary journey starts from a remote village in Vietnam and ends at New Hampshire in United States. FOURTH UNCLE in the MOUNTAIN is a simple but extraordinary story of a boy, of a nation and of a way of life that became extinct.

Based on a series of discussions and debates that took place between five leading physicists and the Dalai Lama. The subject of the debate varies from Quantum Physics, Relativity, Time and space, the relation between scientific knowledge and human experience, Buddhist view of those and to many more.

In his comment to one of my post Sunil wrote :”you’ll find a remarkable openness to new ideas (including complete acceptance of evolution) when you hear eastern religious leaders (like the Dalai Lama) speak….”. I think this remarkable openness comes from the fact that unlike semitic religions Buddhism is not tied down to a set of theology. Here experience supersedes any kind of scriptural authority. And a seeker could reject any authority or scripture or argument that contradict reason. In his reply to one of the physicists in the discussion Dalai Lama says:
“It has nothing to do with God. The Buddhist position is not a theological argument at all. It’s purely philosophical and logical argument….”

With regard to the current popularity of Buddhism in west, probably this could be one of the factors of Buddhism that appealed the western mind

This book tells the international diplomatic drama that unveiled between the Clinton administration and Indian Government under Vajpayee. The highlight of this book is Jaswant Singh. His personality, his diplomatic skills and the way he represented India, had made a lasting impression on the author of this book – Strobe Talbott, secretary of state under Bill Clinton. It also tells the missionary kind of zeal with which American administration pursue India to sign CTBT and NPT and the skills employed by India to avoid it. Author shows, without much bias, the US perspective and Indian perspective on this issue. Reader gets a detailed look at the behind-the scene actions that happened among India, Pakistan and US during the Pokhran Nuclear test and Kargil crisis, especially the part played by former President Bill Clinton. The book also highlights the fact how mutual friendship between diplomats could reward positively to the relation of two countries without compromising the objectives of their mission.

December 18, 2005

Cinema and society

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 6:14 pm

Sunil writes the disturbing trend in Tamil cinema – men beating their wives or daughters or even mothers on screen with dialogs saying its ok to do that. Cinema, I think, reflects the society as in the case of any artistic medium. I believe this is especially true in the case of Malayalam cinema.

The 1970’s and 80’s were considered as the golden age of Malayalam cinema. From 90’s onward it began to deteriorate. If one observe the social, cultural and political scenario of Kerala during this time period, one could very well see the paralells. By the beginning of 90’s most of the gifted writers and poets (Muhammad Bashir, G. Shankarakurup etc), political geniuses (like EMS, Achutha Menon etc ), film personalities (Padmarajan, Bharathan etc) were all gone from the stage. Creativity of the remaining gifted personalities were all seemed to be dried up. Quality of literature and films began to deteriorate. Instead the remaining prominent writers began to wash their dirty linen in public through the press and public podium. Film industry continued to churn out films that absolutely had no artistic value (there could be one or two exceptions here and there but apart from that the well seems to be pretty much dried-up). The political scenario became more corrupt. Organized gang crimes (which was unheard of before) and communal violence (Kerala was once immune to this epidemic) began to show up their ugly face. The society became more insecure and more polarized on the basis of religion.

In the economic scenario Kerala had missed the IT bus. The state government treasury became empty. (As per the 2005 Kerala state budget the state revenue is Rs. 16623 crores and expenditure is Rs. 20696 crores. 91% of the revenue income goes for paying salary and pension). Development initiatives remained in papers. Tourism industry and expatriate money were the only two dim bulbs left. And then, finally, Kerala was officially anointed as Gods own country…. when it became not.

December 5, 2005

Pitfalls and roadblocks for ‘The Rising’

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 4:18 pm

Some of us in this “Flattened” world need a very very long ladder to climb up. A more realistic view of India’s “rising” by Pranab Bardhan in YaleGlobal Online.
Snippet from the article

  • The total number of workers in all possible forms of IT-related jobs in India comes to less than a million workers – one-quarter of one percent of the Indian labor force.
  • India is as yet a minor player in world trade, contributing less than one percent of world exports.
  • No safety net exists for the poor against the major disruptions and hardships of restructuring
  • Slow processes of democracy in India

Intelligent Design and Eastern Mysticism

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 12:04 am

In these paradoxical times where sci-fiction becomes non-fiction and shallow religious beliefs zealously push Intelligent Design into academic curriculum, the article on panspermia hypothesis in Scientific American magazine seems interesting. “The panaspermia hypothesis posits that living cells or their precursors could have emerged on another planet or moon billions of years ago and hatched a ride to Earth on a meteorite”.

This echos the Hindu scriptures like Yogavasishtam which describes the existence of other ‘earths’ in the universe. Parallels to modern science can be found in eastern mysticism, especially in Advaitic and Upanishad thoughts and Buddhism. Advaita school of thought ultimately rejects any kind of creation or Intelligent Design theories. It even reject the idea of re-incarnation. It teaches this world that we experience through our senses forms out of Vishwa Pranan or Cosmic energy. Similarly the resemblance (was it a coincidence..?) between the theory of evolution and the sequence of Dashavataram of Vishnu in the Bhagavatha Purana is fascinating.

The book Einstein and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings by Thomas J. McFarlane attempts to provide clues and hints regarding eastern mysticism’s attempt to understand reality and similarity of it’s finding wih modern science. It is a thought-provoking book for a sckeptic who refuse to believe there exists a common ground between modern science and mysticism.

November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving – mind of Turkey and Tom

Filed under: Culture & Society — MBN @ 12:48 am

October 1, 2005

Complex problems , simple explanations…. from "Maximum City"

Filed under: Uncategorized — MBN @ 4:16 am

It’s a brilliant book. If one wants to understand Bombay…Mumbai, this is the best source. Few interesting conversations from the book:


“How can a man kill ?” I ask Amol. “How can he bring himself to do it?”

“You are a writer. After drinking you will say to yourself, now I must write a story. If you are a dancer, after drinking you will feel like dancing. If you are a killer, after drinking you will think, Now I must kill somebody.”


I ask them why there is more unity, more fellow feeling, in the chawl.
Common toilets, explains Sunil.


“What is a gentleman?” Mickey wonders.
“A gentleman is one who kills his heart’s every desire, who doesn’t have guts”, says Satish.

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