Birds.

My most enjoyable time every day is the half an hour or so that I spend having my morning mug of tea while watching the flowers, butterflies and birds that visit our garden. This has been so ever since we moved into this home over thirty one years ago when in fact, the bird population was as large as it is now thanks to the lockdown and absence of traffic and humans on our roads.

I have recently been unable to name some of the birds that I see in the mornings and remembered that for the same reason, I had bought a book thirty years ago and I went searching for it in my library a few days ago. I couldn’t find it and then I remembered that I had given it away some years ago to someone else with the same problem. I could not recollect that person’s name, a sure sign of my not being a spring-chicken any more.

I therefore, sent for another copy and it arrived this morning.

This book reminded me of Salim Ali, its author and my visit to SACON, which was on the way to ArshaVidya Gurukulam that I used to visit during 1999 and 2001.

I have already identified two birds that I could not name and am yet to find two more. I am sure that I will find them sooner than later.

I find birds and butterflies fascinating.  Do you?

Philosophy And What It Means To Me.

“Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.”

Despite having written before about my tryst with philosophy  in my blog, it is still nice to be able to revisit my story from a different perch as it were.

I approach the topic with a historic perspective highly personal in nature as, I am deeply involved in the study of philosophy.  I was not always so and hence this approach.

I was burning both ends of the candle in the late seventies of the last century when a dear friend, concerned about my well being put me in touch with Transcendental Meditation. I learnt it and started practicing it in earnest with amazing results. While practicing, I also studied the first six chapters of the Bhagwat Gita translated and commented on by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

This continued till 1983 when on a dare, I attended a ten day Vipassana camp and got hooked to that form of meditation which I continue to practice till today.  That little adventure also led me to study Buddhist philosophy.

Two  more synchronistic developments that led to further incidents that got me thoroughly involved in Indian philosophy.

While on a business visit to Chennai, another dear friend insisted that I accompany him to a lecture on Vedanta by Swami Paramarthananda. That got me further interested and when the same friend on a visit to Pune requested me to take him to a colleague and fellow Sanyasi of the Chennai Swamiji, I did and met Swami Satswarupananda of Pune.

I not only met him, but became his student and studied Vedanta under him in our Guru Shishya Parampara for fifteen years.

He finally retired to full time sanyasa to Rishikesh after instructing his students in Pune that Shravanam. (Learning) and Mananam (Internalising the learning) were over and the time had come for them to focus on Nidhidyasanam. And that is what I have been doing since the last many years.

In the meanwhile, I also had the privilege of meeting Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the Guru to both the Swamijis mentioned earlier, both at Anaikatti, his head quarters and in Pune during two of his visits.

Having bored my readers with that background, let me now explain what Vedanta, means to me.

In the Vedantic system, one goes through various stages of life with four goals called the Purushartha.. Having crossed the first three fairly successfully, I am at the last stage of my progress to achieve Moksha.

End of my story.

To understand the contents of my post, please do use the links given for various words without which, it will be difficult to.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 4 On 1 blog posts where Conrad, Sanjana, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been suggested by Sanjana. Please do go over to the other two blogs to see what they have to say on the same topic. Thank you.

A Special Treat.

My irrepressible daughter in love procured from somewhere a new root vegetable which I had never seen or had before.
She informed me that it is a popular vegetable from Indore which by chance, she found in the market during her foray there and brought for us. It is called Garadu and is so rare that it does not feature in wikipedia or any other source to enable me to give a link to it.

It is essentially a member of the yam family.

I had it roasted and we had it earlier today for lunch.
Needless to say, I over-ate taking the chance of some suffering later in the day but, as I write this, no ill effect has occurred.

I could not resist the temptation to share the news of my lunch with some friends from Indore and they were all surprised that it was available in Pune where we live and complimented me for having had the good taste to have it.  Having tasted it once, I look forward to having it more during the next season which I am told is normally between October and March.  Perhaps what we procured was from a cold storage facility.

Siblings.

For some strange reason, my sister posted this on Facebook.

And she added as comments: “Yes…in our family…though mind you…he did sow some pretty wild oats in his heyday. Today, he is a sanyasi and we in the family and a host of other people from all walks of life admire and count upon him as their mentor…to my mother Anusuya’s first born Ramana Rajgopaul. And coming to the tail of this tale…the youngest are spoilt, stubborn and opinionated…ask me…I should know myself, right!”

Not being a modest fellow, I could not agree more. The image however should be reversed in our case, the eldest is a male, me and the youngest is a female, my sister. In between there were two males, one of them sadly no more. Now you can understand her comments about the youngest.

I would like to add this image to conclude this narration.

The truth of the matter however is that they stopped because finally they got the daughter they wanted. I used to tease my late younger brother that had he been a daughter, we would have been just two!  It however turned that the last one also turned out to be the perfect child.

Perception.

My friend Sathya posted this on Facebook.

This reminded me of a post that I wrote here almost ten years ago.

The link will take you to the blog post but, the images there have been taken down to save space. Here is an image of the Indian Mock Strawberry flower.

This flower continues to pop up every  morning now  in our garden without any deliberate planting or tending. Remarkably resilient plant!

I think that Sathya will vouch for the fact that I am a joyful person as she is too!

Effect Of The Pandemic On The Balance Of Power Between Nations?

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

~ John Donne.

I personally believe that the Pandemic itself will not have any effect on the balance of power between nations but, the period during which the pandemic came into being and affected lives, saw many developments that certainly will.

Let me list the events that I think were/are important for the world’s future in terms of Balance Of Power, henceforth BOP, between nations.

The first and most important, in my view, development was the breakdown in relations between the USA and China. The impact of this breakdown will unfold over the next few years with devastating effect on both economies till offsetting alternatives are found by both. That this period also saw the very nasty last year of the POTUS 45’s term which has changed the USA for ever and its future as an economic power is likely to face very strong winds though militarily little is likely to change.

The next was BREXIT. I strongly believe that this is a major development which will affect the BOP within Europe and may even hasten other exits from the union. Britain is likely to come out of it relatively unscathed but, will have to redraw its relationships with the countries of the Commonwealth, which in turn will impact many of them particularly India. British nationals of South Asian origin will have to rethink their loyalties and this is likely to be a major game changer in the sub continent.

The next in line is the military confrontation between China and India during almost the whole year which has broken their relationship and its impact economically is likely to affect China more than India.

Breakdown of relationship between China and Australia is another factor that will have serious impact in the global economic order during the rest of this decade. This coinciding with the strengthening of the Quad alliance has sent strong signals to China which is likely to react in unpredictable ways.

The crackdown in Hong Kong by China has already started to see exodus of highly qualified professionals and companies from the island and this is likely to impact the Chinese economy in unpredictable ways.

The Islamic world has been rent with violence since before the pandemic and if anything it has only increased during the last year. Oil based economies of the ME states have suffered and it has affected countries like Pakistan and India which send labour there. Quite how the Middle East will come out of the present strong winds of electric vehicles will impact the Islamic world and Muslim populations of the whole world which will overshadow any impact that the pandemic might have had.

Lastly, the latest developments in Mayanmar and Nepal do not bode well for the region as a whole. Quite how that plays out is yet to be seen and how China will play its cards there will give some indications of the shift in the BOP in the region.

All in all, the decade offers interesting ring side seats for people like me with nothing better to do than to read a number of news papers every day and speculate. While it will be interesting, I do not foresee any major shifts in the BOP during the decade. If anything, some polarisation will take place but, it will have little effect on the BOP.

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Shackman. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.