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This is about the sage Viswamitra (V) requesting King Dasharatha (D) for his young son’s (aged 12 years or less), help to conduct a sacrifice successfully – he expects two demons to disrupt the ritual with their usual fiendish antics. The sage gives the reason for his request: on the eve of performing the sacrifice, he does not want to lose control of his mind and curse the demons all the way to their hell (through such outbursts, sages often lose their power gained after enduring practice of austere tapas).

It is described essentially in Sarga 19 of Bala Kanda in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

The source used for this analysis is here.

In the 21 verses contained in this Sarga, the sage makes 13 statements (five of them are compound with two parts) as under exactly in the same sequence, reproduced verbatim from the source:

  1. Born in an illustrious lineage and initiated by sage Vasishta, this way (of speaking) befits you.
  2. Take a decision and be truthful to your promise.
  3. Rama is valiant, young and true to his prowess.
  4. (a) Protected by me and (b) by his own divine power, Rama is capable of destroying even those demons causing impediments to the sacrifice.
  5. (a) I will confer upon him, without doubt, a lot of blessings for his well-being (b) by which he will attain fame in all the three worlds.
  6. Both of them (Maricha and Subahu) will not be able to withstand Rama in any way. Rama, and Rama alone, is capable of destroying them.
  7. Proud of their strength, the two wicked demons have been noosed by Yama, the god of death. O tiger among kings they are no match for the mahathmana Rama.
  8. (a) O king, it is not proper for you to hesitate because of your paternal affection. (b) You need to know that both the rakshasas will perish. This, I assure you.
  9. (a) I know Rama who is a great soul, true to his prowess and (b) also Vasishta of great luster and these other sages who have been steadfast in asceticism also know.
  10. O king of kings, if you are seeking the benefits of righteousness, great everlasting fame in this world, it is fit and proper to give Rama to me.
  11. Kakustha, if your counselors and all other sages headed by Vasishta give their consent, then only you may relieve Rama.
  12. (a) You should spare your dear son, the lotus-eyed Rama, (b) impartial and detached, (a) for ten nights.
  13. Dasharatha, descendant of Raghu, act in such a manner that the time for my sacrifice is not delayed. Do not indulge in grief. Prosperity to you”

After speaking these words charged with dharma and artha the great sage resplendent Viswamitra fell silent. 

It’s easy to see these 13 statements fitting into a well-structured script planned by the sage V as under, set roughly in the same sequence:

  • Starts with two praises of D, (1 and 2) for him to live up?
  • Next, first mention (3) is made, rather simply, of Rama’s prowess and, not so startlingly in passing, about his divine power in 4(b) (also the word ‘mahathmana’ in 7?).
  • Follows up talking about his personal support to stand by Rama in 4(a) and 5(a).
  • Names and belittles the enemies for reassurance vis-a-vis Rama’s ability in 6, 7, 8(b) and 9(a).
  • Time to bring more pressure and ‘carrots’ for D to oblige in 5(b), 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13.
  • Rounds up defining the duration of his demand for Rama’s assistance in 12(a) and also
  • Drawing support from other unassailable sources including his ‘arch rival’ sage Vasishta to buttress his assessment of Rama in 9(b) and 11.

Could it be better, you think?

Now for another interesting perspective: Going by the count (not by relative strengths) of the statements, it adds up to (each statement in full counts for one and part of a compound statement, half):  

  • So for D to be persuaded, there are 2 praises and 3.5 of pressures and
    ‘carrots’ for a total of 5.5 out of 13.
  • V’s personal support (‘his skin in the game’) assured for Rama makes up for 1 out of 13.
  • On Rama’s prowess, said matter-of-factly, it is 4.5 directly coming from him and another 1.5 of vouchsafing support from others for a total of 6 out of 13 on assessment of Rama’s abilities to meet the challenge.
  • Specifying duration of V’s demand is 0.5 out of 13.

Is that a good balance?

Some observations:

The sage’s assessment of Rama’s prowess is based more on his
insight than any precedent display. Nothing is said by the sage about Rama’s
equipment, no mention is made of specific astra-shastra’s
(weapons w/wo mantra’s) in Rama’s quiver – perhaps unnecessary, premature or
even inappropriate?

Rising above the family-pulls, Valmiki ends the Sarga with

‘Having listened to those auspicious words of Viswamitra, the king among kings, (Dasaratha) experienced intense grief out of fear. He became despondent.’

How could the words inducing fear and despondency in the virtuous other be considered as auspicious? Simply because the killing of those two demons – the sage had enough insight Rama would accomplish it despite being too young – was necessary (directly or otherwise) for the good of the kingdom at large, besides V himself gaining from it. Here’s a cardinal principle of well-being of a society, said not in so many words: the call of dharma is more powerful and must be heeded to than the tug of one’s heart-strings should there ever be a conflict. The same is asserted without ambiguity in different ways in statements: 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13. This comes to us in age when the principle is made to stand on its head, when parents amass wealth brazenly thru misdeeds for themselves and, more so, their children. Or, clouded by affection, they’re guilty failing to check adharmic acts of omission and commission of their near and dear.

Interestingly the phrase ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ in statement 12(a) is unimaginably double-edged!! How? The ready explanation is: Poets often compare beautiful eyes like those of Rama to lotus flowers in bloom. No surprises there. Now to the not-so-ready: Just as a lotus folds itself up in the night and come night, the young Rama goes off to sleep peacefully. And that is exactly when the demons become hyperactive. Is it fair to the sleepy young boy to be thrown against demons when they are in their elements?

End

PS: The source is responsible for the translation of the
original verses, included here verbatim and not for the rest of the content in
the post. The interpretation of ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ comes from here.
Image from flipkart.

So you know to hurl the brickbats at whom:-}  

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bea16f181b9553084879e01c5be59e2f patch com

There was a King who bred 10 wild dogs. He used them at his whim and will to torture public servants in his court who fell out of favor.

So one of the ministers once gave an opinion which proved to be wrong, and the King didn’t like at all.

So he ordered that the minister to be thrown to the dogs.

The shocked minister pleaded: ‘I served you 10 years with my sweat and blood and you do this?’

His pleas fell on deaf ears.

‘Okay, so be it. Please give me 10 days before you throw me in with those dogs.’

The merciful King conceded.

The minister went to the guard in charge of the dogs and told him he wanted to serve the dogs for the next 10 days.

The guard not knowing the reason was baffled. But he agreed.

So the minister started feeding the dogs, cleaning for them, washing them, providing all sorts of comfort for them.

So when the 10 days were up, the King, true to his word, ordered that the minister be thrown to the dogs for his punishment.

But when he was thrown in, everyone was amazed at what happened – they saw the dogs licking the feet of the minister!

The King did not like what he saw.

He asked petulantly: ‘What ever happened to the dogs? Do they know what they are doing?’’

The minister spoke up: ‘I served the dogs for 10 days and they didn’t forget my service. And I served you for 10 years and you forgot all about it in a trice.”

So the King realising his mistake made amends…

and got crocodiles instead for the minister and the dogs.

When the mighty make up their minds the meek don’t stand a chance.

End

 

PS: You may read ‘Authority’, ‘Government’, ‘Management’…for the ‘Mighty’. Need I add attribution to Chanakya is advertently erroneous 🙂

Source: facebook.com/groups/101024580247213/ (Gautham iyengar) and image from patch.com

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OhMindRelaxPlease_0000

Last Sunday I was spending time in a small library attached to a Hindu Temple, waiting for my daughter to finish her lecture and join me. A few shelves of religious/spiritual books, magazine racks, a long table at the center with chairs around, a librarian’s counter on entry to the right and a small office room in a far corner. The ubiquitous sign admonishing all to maintain strict silence hung on the inside and above the entrance.

 

I selected two books for perusal: Oh MIND Relax Please (OMRP) by Swami Sukhabodananda (SS) and a book of VIkramaditya-Vetal stories. Found a few interesting stories/anecdotes in OMRP that I made notes of. Here’s short one that I liked:

A Zen monk was on his death-bed. All his disciples thronged around him, in sorrow. They asked, `Master! What is your last sermon?’

The monk, instead of replying to their question, asked for a sweet. When the sweet was brought, he looked at it with elation, like a small child. He then ate it, bit by bit, fully savoring its taste, tapping his hands rhythmically. Thereafter, he simply died…

And there were more that I hope to bring in here in the time ahead.

As I was scribbling my notes from the book, I heard a thud. Right in front of me, the lone library staff manning the counter had lifted a pile of books out of a carton letting the empty carton freely drop to the floor. That was the thud. Not done with it yet, he kicked the carton to the nearest wall and turning around plonked the pile of books on the counter-top. You well know a pile doesn’t stay plonked without cascading down. And books are no cats in landing on the floor elegantly and noiselessly. It took a while for the startled readers to resume where they had left off.

I looked up at the stern message hanging over the entrance to check if it exempted the library staff from its demand.

Surrounded by shelves of books, can’t blame the man (library staff) if the monk’s message had not reached him:

(in SS’s words) “Eating a sweet is a very ordinary affair. Even that should be done with total involvement and relish. This was the last message that the monk wished to convey.”

Years ago, I stayed for a short time at a small place in Gloucester and commuted to work by the Underground. Lifts were available at this station to reach down 3 or 4 levels. This middle-aged man made an indelible impression on me that has lasted till date. Unwearily he operated one of those lifts standing on his feet all day. At every stop, he would dutifully caution the passengers lost in their thoughts to be mindful of the gap as they stepped in/out. And there were gaps enough to catch the unwary. His message would ring loud – not too loud – and clear for all to hear, even if he had an audience of just one. All unsupervised, unaudited by any ISO certified. Did it matter if he was not doing it with a dance? I was young and shy to talk to him on what he thought about it – an opportunity I lost.

Coming back to the plain and simple message from the monk, seriously, it’s strange the management gurus/life-coaches/mind-scientists haven’t yet grabbed it with two hands as an operating principle to cure many societal/personal ills.

Any alternative would be too dreary to live by. What do you think?

End

PS: In hindsight, I hold him (the lift operator) as a humble but thoroughly inspiring example and embodiment of: ‘Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana…’ (B. Gita 2.47)

 

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This anecdote comes again from B:

Arnoud999-Right-or-wrong-


1967 March/April. I was appearing for my Intermediate examination (13th year) at a college in south Mumbai. Those days it was 11 years in school, 2 years of pre-degree in college and another 2 years in a bachelor’s degree course.

It was the day of Hindi exam. As always I did my namaskars to Lord Ganesha (the deity thought to remove all obstacles) and to my mother before leaving the house. A practice widely followed in my generation.

Most of candidates taking the examination were already employed in paying job,now wanting to earn a university degree to further their career prospects. In preparation for the same they would attend coaching classes in the morning while attending to their jobs during the day.

So here I was in the examination hall staring blankly at the question paper in Hindi. Most of us – I and others in the hall – were migrants from south, poor in Hindi, disinterested as well beyond the need of the situation. There was no choice before us as Hindi was mandated and we had to pass.

The supervisor in the hall knew the predicament. He closed his eyes to the candidates freely copying from whatever sources including text-books. And I was staring at the question paper like I was decoding script from the Indus Valley tablets. Before long the roving eyes of the supervisor settled on a-completely-unengaged me. He moved to station himself near my desk and sent out subtle signals for me to “do what you want”,

It was not difficult at all for me to decide – I wrote what I could and came away. To me, a standing injunction against less-than-honest means from my mother, a-not-so-preachy financially weak and uneducated single parent, was simply non-negotiable come what may.

When the results were declared  I was surprised to note from newspapers that I had passed!

The  mark-sheet subsequently issued showed I had scored a bountiful 6 out of 75 marks against a minimum passing requirement of 15. So the newspapers were wrong.It had to be. Though none of it was unexpected I was still devastated.

In sheer disgust I gazed at the mark-sheet hoping for some miracle. And there it was!

There was a special note at the bottom of the nothing-to-speak-of mark-sheet:  Failure in Hindi condoned under section….” Reason: I had passed / scored well on all other papers. The powers that be were taking a kinder view of the matter in their efforts to promote Hindi (as national language).

While we all conduct our lives adopting a certain code of ethics learnt either from elders in the family or in school, we differ in our intensity of compliance.

Oftentimes we cite exigencies:

 ‘We have to move with time,

We have to be flexible and realistic,

Just this once

to permit ourselves infractions that are minor to begin with, insidiously building up into major breaches over time. Every shred starts with a tear.

In the above anecdote B steadfastly holds onto his tenet of not resorting to less-than-honest means to achieve an end as simply inviolable and non-negotiable even in the face of adverse fallout’s. From there it was no longer a difficult decision for him to make.

A courage we wish we had more of.

In an earlier post (see https://tskraghu.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/a-wrong-was-righted-and-how/) B was introduced as my neighbor for years. And also the father of the highly successful and talented Vidya Balan of Bollywood.

End

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Source: openclipart (amroud999)

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Enjoyed receiving this strip below from my good friend and ex-colleague Rajanga Sivakumar:

Camel 1

Camel 2

Camel 3

Camel 4

Moral of the story:

Camel 5

So right it is.

The trouble is a right place does not come by easily. Even if it does, it may not stay right for long.

How about righting the place where you are? Before giving up, I mean. Incidentally no company raps you on the knuckles when the results show up good on account the changes you bring in.

Today, it is important to understand changes don’t/need not always flow from the top. Every employee has an opportunity to be a change agent in some ways. Of course, it needs an empowering environment. Perfectly possible in many Indian companies with loosely drawn lines and roles than in MNC’s and their offshore units with rigorously templated jobs. May be that MNC’s don’t need righting since they’re right already? Though I doubt given the dynamics of IT business and the interesting possibilities thrown up almost everyday.

End

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One of the biggest challenges in building software and systems and least appreciated is about drawing the line on what features are in and what are not. Whenever you catch the smell of feature creep, call for this modern parable. Or even better, in the project kickoff held right at the outset when expectations, success factors and scope are discussed, it may be a good idea to take your audience to this story during coffee-break:


Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors for a test. He showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob, and a lever. “What do you think this is?”

One advisor, an engineer, answered first. “It is a toaster,” he said.

The king asked, “How would you design an embedded computer for it?”

The engineer replied, “Using a four-bit microcontroller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob and quantizes its position to one of 16 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as the index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the heating elements and start the timer with the initial value selected from the table. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week, and I’ll show you a working prototype.”

The second advisor, an IT Analyst, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, “Toasters don’t just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete. If we don’t look to the future, we will have to completely redesign the toaster in just a few years.”

“With this in mind, we can formulate a more intelligent solution to the problem. First, create a class of breakfast foods. Specialize this class into subclasses: grains, pork, and poultry. The specialization process should be repeated with grains divided into toast, muffins, pancakes, and waffles; pork divided into sausage, links, and bacon; and poultry divided into scrambled eggs, hard- boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs, and various omelet classes.”

“The ham and cheese omelet class is worth special attention because it must inherit characteristics from the pork, dairy, and poultry classes. Thus, we see that the problem cannot be properly solved without multiple inheritance. At run time, the program must create the proper object and send a message to the object that says, ‘Cook yourself.’ The semantics of this message depend, of course, on the kind of object, so they have a different meaning to a piece of toast than to scrambled eggs.”

“Reviewing the process so far, we see that the analysis phase has revealed that the primary requirement is to cook any kind of breakfast food. In the design phase, we have discovered some derived requirements. Specifically, we need an object-oriented language with multiple inheritance. Of course, users don’t want the eggs to get cold while the bacon is frying, so concurrent processing is required, too.”

“We must not forget the user interface. The lever that lowers the food lacks versatility, and the darkness knob is confusing. Users won’t buy the product unless it has a user-friendly, graphical interface. When the breakfast cooker is plugged in, users should see a cowboy boot on the screen. Users click on it, and the message ‘Booting UNIX v.8.3’ appears on the screen. (UNIX 8.3 should be out by the time the product gets to the market.) Users can pull down a menu and click on the foods they want to cook.”

“Having made the wise decision of specifying the software first in the design phase, all that remains is to pick an adequate hardware platform for the implementation phase. An Intel 80386 with 8 MB of memory, a 30 MB hard disk, and a VGA monitor should be sufficient. If you select a multitasking, object oriented language that supports multiple inheritance and has a built-in GUI, writing the program will be a snap. (Imagine the difficulty we would have had if we had foolishly allowed a hardware-first design strategy to lock us into a four-bit microcontroller!).”

The king wisely had the IT Analyst beheaded, and they all lived happily ever after.

End
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Credit: Unknown Usenet source (edited), wackywits.com, openclipart.com (seanujones) and public-domain-photos.com.

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I’ve heard rumors like this emnating from the corridors of government offices. This is a new one for me reported from an IT company – good for some chuckles:


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Five cannibals get appointed as programmers in an IT company.

During the welcoming ceremony the boss says:

“You’re all part of our team now.

You can earn good money here, and you can go to the company canteen for something to eat. So don’t trouble the other employees”.

The cannibals promise not to trouble the other employees.

Four weeks later the boss says:

“You’re all working very hard, and I’m very satisfied with all of you. However one of our female developers has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?”

The cannibals disown all knowledge of the missing developer.

After the boss has left, the leader of the cannibals says to the others:

“Which of you idiots ate the developer?”

One of the cannibals raises his hand hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals says: “You FOOL!

For four weeks we’ve been eating team leaders, managers, and project managers and no-one has noticed anything, and now YOU ate one developer and it got noticed.

So from now on please keep away from any of those guys.”

End

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Source: EnjoyTheMasti and amazing-animations.com

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