Apr 26, 2014

Inside a Little Brain

A few days ago when we were at my friend's place, my little one was crawling towards where the food was kept thrice. On all those three occasions, I picked her up when she came near to the food. On her fourth attempt, she crawled in the opposite direction towards her mom. Half way between me and her mom, she stopped crawling and looked back at me. Since she was going towards her mom, I was not making any attempt to stop her. Sensing this, she suddenly reversed her direction and reached food in no time! She almost succeeded in dodging me!

The following incident happened a few times at my home. I have observed that she likes to go through a door even if it is only slightly open. If the door is wide open, she would crawl through it, but if the door is kept ajar, she would stand straight, position her body such that she could go through between the narrow space.

These incidents made me think how my little one's little brain works. To put her little brain to test, I made her a challenge taking help from my wife and observed how our little one performed. I kept a room door wide open and placed a steel rack on the way. The steel rack had space between the two shelves which is enough for my little one to crawl through, but not enough for her to walk in between. 

Seeing the way blocked, she stood up and tried to position herself to go past through the door. She cried at first, then applied brute force to push the steel rack aside thereby making a way for herself!

I placed the steel rack again, but this time in such a way that she could not move it by force. She cried a lot and put a sad face as if asking me for a clue. I asked my wife to make her sit in crawling position and show the gap between two shelves.

Our little one got the clue immediately, and felt elated after knowing that she was able to crawl between the shelves and go through the door!

After repeating the test one more time, I found that when I make her stand and asked her to go through the door, her reaction was to apply brute force. When I make her sit in crawling position, she gets the clue and crawl through the door.

So much for her little brain!

Apr 12, 2014

Pursuit of (Eternal) Happiness

Some people say if I do "this..this..this", this will make me feel happy.

Some others will say if I do "that..that..that", that will make me feel better.

Yet some others would say if I get "this..this..this" or "that..that..that", it will make me happy.

This begs a question, Can someone feel happy by doing "this" or "that" or by getting "this" or "that"?

May be. But how long can one remain happy with "this" and "that"? Is eternal happiness really possible?

Time and again, people's experience have shown that nothing can make one eternally happy. This statement has been warranted by scriptures as well which says one gets eternal happiness by serving the Lord.

Though scriptures are very clear with this point, human tendency is to ignore what scriptures say. Our tendency is to think of scriptures rules as ideal which we could never achieve. We accept that we are at lower level of consciousness and we deserve to be happy only by doing/getting this and that.

There is nothing wrong with this kind of thinking. But the issue gets bigger when one strives hard to change temporary happiness to an eternal one. This can never happen!

Let us for the sake of an argument say that if a person do "this/that" or get "this/that", he feels happy eternally. Extending this argument to all the people in this world, then people from this entire world will remain content with their own "this/that". When this happen, the earth will stand still! There will not be any progress, no newer ideas and development.

Assuming that no one is bothered about not getting newer ideas or development, one may still feel jealous of other people's "this/that". I may have what I want, but I still want what the other person has!

Even if one person in this entire world thinks along this line, like butterfly effect, the whole scenario would change in no time. Negative forces such as jealousy, possessiveness, etc are always at work. No matter how hard one strives, eternal happiness with materialistic desires is beyond one's reach.

Wise are those who are in pursuit of eternal happiness. Those who pursue mere happiness are otherwise.

Mar 15, 2014

Indru Oru Thagaval: Anger Management

I heard the following story on anger management narrated by Thenkachi Ko. Swaminathan in Indru Oru Thagaval (Today's fact of the day), a popular radio show during early 90's.

Once there lived a very short tempered kid who gets angry at slightest provocation. In a fit of rage, he would break any object that comes to his hand. His father tried several methods to teach him how to control his anger.

One day, his father called his son and said, "Listen son, I have been trying to advocate you that anger is not good for your health. But you keep getting angry and break lot of objects. Destruction is the character of a demon. To teach you a lesson, I am going to try a last resort."

At this point, the boy got curious. For every time in the past the boy met his father, he has given nothing but advices. But now he is going to stop doing it for good (or bad). "What is it father that you are going to teach me this time?", he asked.

His father replied, "I am not going to teach you or advice you any more. I now realise it does not work. I am going to adopt a strategy. Every time you get angry, I am going to hit a nail in the banyan tree outside our house", saying thus, his father went outside and hit the first nail.

At the beginning, the boy did not understand how this strategy is going to make him overcome his anger. But after a few months time, he saw that his favourite banyan tree which provided shade during scorching days, swing during evenings to play, cool breeze to take a mid-day nap is bearing all suffering for his anger. He soon found that a good portion of its bark is now covered with nails.

He went to his father and said, "My dear father, I now realise that I am getting way too angry even for mundane things. Help me to get rid of my anger. Help me to control my sense".

Hearing this from his son, the father felt elated. He called his son to come near him, gave him a warm hug and replied, "Son, there is a way to control your anger. Every time you get angry, try helping someone in need in whatever way you can. And when you do that, remember to remove one nail at a time for every service you render".

The boy obeyed his father's order. After a few months time, he had removed all the nails from the banyan tree. He was so happy that he jumped in joy, went to his father and screamed from top of his voice, "Dad, today I removed the last nail from the banyan tree".

His father held his hand, took him to the banyan tree, pointed towards the nail marks and said, "Son, no matter how much you try to help others, you must realize that your anger has left a scar on the tree". At this point, the boy fell down and cried.

"Dad, I am extremely sorry. I did not realize that by getting angry, I hurt others. What should I do now?"

Being his father, he felt pity on his son. He lifted him up and said, "Do not worry my dear son. Pray to God. Think of all the times when you got angry and hit a nail. Beg for his forgiveness".

After this, every time the boy came out of his house, he would sit next to the tree and pray to God, "Dear God, I have made a grave mistake because of which I have left scar in people's heart, just like this banyan tree. Please forgive me for my shortcoming".

With time, all the scars on the bark of banyan tree was healed. The boy realized the greatest truth of all time, "getting angry is not only bad for the person's health, it also hurts people's heart and leaves a scar".

Thenkachi finished his narrative with the following quote from Thirukkural,

Theeyinal sutta-pun ullarum, aaradhe
Naavinaal sutta vadu.

Theeyinal: by fire
sutta-pun: wound caused
ullarum: heal completely
aaradhe: does not heal
naavinaal: by spoken words
sutta: caused
vadu: scar
(Wounds caused by fire would heal completely with time but the scar from wounds caused by angry words would never heal)

Sep 8, 2013

Monsoon Pregnancy

The month of December had just started. Winter monsoon was already at its peak bringing more rain to the plains. Flood damages and record low temperatures were the topics discussed by everyone in the southern states of India. Only a couple of weeks ago, one of the worst cyclones hit the entire state of Andhra Pradesh propagating its remnants in the form of frequent rains scattered all over Tamil Nadu.

"I was on my 39th week into my pregnancy with my first baby. I still remember the day vividly", Kamatchi recollected that momentous day from her past. 
Kamatchi is 55 years old now. Age had painted extra wrinkles on her face, adding more beauty with maturity. A few black hairs on her head showed that she still have years to live and share her life stories with generations.
"It happened 36 years ago! I was only seventeen then", she traversed through time. "Only a year before did I enter into the wedlock. I wanted to complete my school education but my parents had other idea"

I paused and reflected on myself. I am Swati, Kamatchi's last daughter. When I was 16, going to school was a norm. To my generation, it was hard to believe that completing a school or going for graduate studies was a privilege once. 

That is when I felt that my mother is a phenomenal women I have ever seen. She wanted to see her daughters graduate in higher studies, that which was denied to her when she was young.

"What other idea did your parents have mother?", I asked her. I was as curious to know about her first pregnancy as I was with my own.

"It was to align with the society's expectations of getting their daughter married as soon as she attained her puberty. Within a few months of my marriage, I became pregnant".

I recollected my prenatal appointments with an obstetrician. "Did you visit doctor regularly?", I asked her curiously.

"My dear, during my days, my mother and other elderly women in our locality were the obstetricians. Each day they would prepare some healthy food cooked with herbals and make me eat. This, they said, would take care of nausea and other pregnancy related complications".

"Did not you feel any complications?", I asked her curiously recounting my days of nausea.

"Not that I can remember, until the day my water broke, that is to say".

"What happened then?", I asked her.

"It was around 11.30 in the night when my water broke. There was continuous rain since the previous night. Most roads were filled with knee-deep water. As soon as my water broke, I started getting convulsions. I could not bear pain any longer. But then, we did not have a car or a two wheeler to be rushed to the hospital".

"How did you reach the hospital then?", anxiety engulfed me.

"My father made my mother and myself wait outside of our house, walked to the nearest railway station to enquire about the next train that would take us to town".

A stark contrast hit my mind hard. On the day when my water broke, I called my best friend who had earlier happily agreed to give us a ride to the hospital.

"My dad came home with his face lit brightly", she said, breaking my chain of thoughts. "Come soon. A train is about to arrive at the station. I had already bought the tickets". For the first time, I felt God is listening to my prayers.

Holding my father and mother's arms from both the sides, we walked to the nearest railway station, all the while my mouth chanting "Mariamma", begging her to be with me till I pull this through.

There was a power outage then because of heavy rain. By the time we walked through the muddy waters and hasted to the station, the train had arrived.

We got down at the town railway station and reached the government hospital by a bullock cart. My father sent for a nurse to attend me, who in turn had sent the news to the lady doctor on call. The doctor, who had just came from her home, injected chloroform, a full body anaesthesia.

"Were they monitoring your blood pressure and baby's heart beat?", I asked her innocently.

"Who knows? The next thing I know was that my daughter was born".