May 20, 2018

5 arrows: Bhishma and Duryodhana

A brief recap: 

Part 1: Duryodhana felt enraged as eight of his brothers were killed so far after the end of eighth day battle in Kurukshetra, while Kauravas were not even close to capturing Pandavas. His provoking accusation leads Bhishma to take a vow to kill all the Pandavas before next dusk with five golden arrows on which he had imbued his life’s penance.

Part 2: Krishna summoned Arjuna and explained to him about Bhishma's vow with 5 arrows. Not knowing what to do, Arjuna begged Krishna to suggest Pandavas a way out. Krishna asked Arjuna to visit Duryodhana's tent and ask for the 5 arrows.

Part 3: Overwhelmed by Arjuna's presence in his tent, Duryodhana offered Arjuna to ask whatever he wants, not knowing his clever ploy. Counting his lucky stars for this volunteer offer, Arjuna asked Duryodhana for those 5 golden arrows.
Every new day begins with a sunrise. After a day-long struggle, every living beings on Earth goes to sleep with a hope that the new day beckons them with a new beginning. The first ray of Sun is very important. One who sees the first ray of Sun is blessed to see a new hope and begin his day on a positive note. Often, a layer of cloud obscures the view changing hope to despair. A layer of cloud, in the form of 5 arrows, had obscured the view of Bhishma. Ever since he gave the 5 golden arrows to Duryodhana, Bhishma could not be at peace with himself. 

"How could I do this? How did I allow myself to be provoked by Duryodhana? I should have handled the situation in a better way. What more am I going to do to fulfill my vow? Dear God! What have I done to face this situation? Please answer me", he let out a silent prayer.

With a heavy heart, he donned the attire of commander-in-chief. Every passing minute felt like an arrow piercing through his body. Letting out a long sigh of despair, he left his tent and marched towards Duryodhana's place.

"My dear Duryodhana, in order to make you happy, I imbibed my lifelong penance on five golden arrows and have it in your possession. I am pretty sure you must have rejoiced your night with the assurance that the five Pandavas will be killed in the battlefield today with those arrows. It is now time to fulfill my vow and satisfy your desire. Bring me those five arrows.", he commanded.

The grief-stricken Duryodhana walked sluggishly towards Bhishma and said in an inaudible voice, "Dear Pitamah, those 5 golden arrows are no longer in my possession".

"What happened Duryodhana? You look troubled. Tell me what happened to those 5 golden arrows? Did someone steal from your tent? How dare!  I will soon find the thief and behead him in front of your eyes. Do not worry"

"No, my dear great-grandfather. Nobody stole those 5 arrows from me."

"What happened then?"

"Last night, Arjuna came to my tent after you left. Overwhelmed by his presence, I immediately offered him to ask whatever he wants, not knowing his clever ploy. He asked for those 5 arrows. I did not have a choice!"

"Unbelievable! How did Arjuna know about those 5 arrows?", Bhishma asked far-fetched.

"I have no idea Pitamah. But I do believe that cowherd Krishna must be behind all this."

Hearing this, Bhishma's face was distorted with rage. "How dare that Krishna tricked you to break my vow? To fulfill my vow is my dharma. People call me Bhishma for that very reason! In today's battlefield, I will break Krishna's vow!", he thundered.

What was Krishna's vow? Did Bhishma succeed in breaking Krishna's vow? What happened next? the final part of this five-part series will bring the closure.

Mar 1, 2018


Overnight mist blanketed the sky over river Ganges. Soon, the first rays of the rising Sun would melt them and make way for a clear morning sky. Gautama arrived at the river bank, disrobed himself, jumped into the river and took a bath. The ice cold water on his naked body woke each and every cell, made him feel rejuvenated.

It is during twilight that Gautama would take a bath in river Ganges and perform his morning rituals, followed by offering prayers to the Sun God. He would chant the mantra to Sun God requesting him to help remove his ignorance and fill his mind with the light of knowledge.

But on that particular day, the Sun God did not appear to accept his offering. Misty night obscured the view of the moon-lit sky. Deep darkness prevailed everywhere, including his mind.

"Why am I feeling different today?", he asked the question to himself. He could not continue with his daily ritual. Something was bothering him.

"I must find out what is going on with me", he said with determination. He stopped his rituals mid-way, walked home deeply contemplating on his thoughts. He lost control of his mind, and in turn, his senses. A sudden feeling of sexual urge pervaded him. Every part of his body longed to have sex with a beautiful girl.

"If thinking about sex gives me so much pleasure, how would I feel if I actually have it?", his mind asked lustily. He knew the answer.

"Having sex would give me the same feeling as being crowned as king of heaven[1]. But what about my penance?", he engaged his mind with conversation.

"Don't you want to enjoy all that the materialistic world has to offer?"

"I am a sage. I had renounced everything and I am living a detached life in a small hut deep inside this forest. Of what use is the materialistic enjoyment to me?"

"You had lived your entire life as an A-halya[2]. Now you deserve to have sex and feel what it is like to be the king of heaven", his mind lured him with pleasing words.

He almost gave up arguing with his mind. "Maybe my mind is correct. I have not had sex with a woman in my entire life. Don't I deserve to experience sex at least once?", he asked himself.

Years of penance had taught him how to deal with an uncontrolled mind. Soon, like the mist exposed to the first ray of Sun, the darkness that prevailed in his mind also disappeared.

"How could I even think of having materialistic enjoyment?", he asked himself disbelieving he allowed his mind to lure him. "I deserve to be punished".

He could neither curse A-halya, nor the thought of becoming king of heaven!

"Dear Ram, the noblest of all noblemen in this world, please forgive me for my sinful thoughts. Make my mind numb like a stone, that which cannot have any feelings", he prayed to Lord Ram. "I surrender unto your Lotus feet. Please have mercy on me and take complete control of myself".

[1] Lord Indra.
[2] A-halya means un-ploughed, which can also mean a virgin.

Feb 28, 2018

5 arrows: Arjuna and Duryodhana

A brief recap from Part 1: Duryodhana felt enraged as eight of his brothers were killed so far after the end of eighth day battle in Kurukshetra, while Kauravas were not even close to capturing Pandavas. His provoking accusation leads Bhishma to take a vow to kill all the Pandavas before next dusk with five golden arrows on which he had imbued his life’s penance.

Part 2: Krishna summoned Arjuna and explained to him about Bhishma's vow with 5 arrows. Not knowing what to do, Arjuna begged Krishna to suggest Pandavas a way out. Krishna asked Arjuna to visit Duryodhana's tent and ask for the 5 arrows.


Welcome my dear Arjuna! What a pleasant surprise? Have you come here to accept the defeat of Pandavas? Did your elder brother Yudhistra send you here with a deal to surrender?”, Duryodhana continued to direct all the questions towards Arjuna.

Unsure of where to start, Arjuna was measuring his pace and said, “First let me in my dear brother, won't you?”

Of course! Do come in. I shall fight with you only on the battlefield. Be my guest here. After all, you have saved my life when I was fighting with Chitrasena”. Duryodhana recollected the incident that happened just before the beginning of Kurukshetra war. I feel happy to receive you here in my tent in the middle of this historical battle. Ask me whatever you want. I, Duryodhana, will fulfill your wish”, he continued.

Hearing those words, Arjuna clearly understood Krishna's plan. “I must admit that I was thinking about every possible way to avoid conflicts that may arise due to my visit here. But you surprised me by recollecting the fight between Chitrasena and myself, whom your own close friend and a mighty warrior, Karna, could not defeat. I have indeed come here to ask you for a favor. How magnanimous of you to offer me a wish even before I asked!”, Arjuna replied in the same length.

What is it that you want Arjuna? Feel free to ask me whatever you want. Do you want a small kingdom for yourself? I shall certainly give it to you, now that you have entered my tent with open hands”.

Thank you, my dear brother, for such a generous offer. But no, thank you. I do not want any kingdom for myself, nor am I going to ask you the same for my brothers. I have come here to ask you the 5 arrows which our great grandfather Bhishma had given it to you”.

“But, how did you even know about those 5 arrows?”, Duryodhana stammered. “Certainly, I shall not give those arrows to you. Those five arrows are meant to kill each one of your brothers including yourself tomorrow on the battlefield”.

"You cannot go back on your own words Duryodhana. It does not befit your status”, Arjuna hits Duryodhana where it hurts, his ego.

Holding a deep grudge, Duryodhana handed over the 5 golden arrows which were earmarked to kill the Pandavas and win the war next day.

Did Duryodhana craft his own defeat in the battle? Was Pitamah Bhishma happy with this sudden change of events? More mysteries will be unfolded in next parts of the series.

Sep 18, 2017

A trip to Hyderabad - Part 2

There are more passengers than the number of berths, Sathya observed and told to Prakash. Perhaps they are traveling together, but were allowed berth in a different coach, he guessed.

Let's share this side lower berth till TTE allocates one for me, Prakash said. Meanwhile, Sathya was arranging Chapati and Daal as lunch for both. "When did you prepare this?", Prakash was clearly surprised.

When you were packing your bag, she replied. "But weren't you also packing then? Also, you only had about 10 mins!", he asked in reply.

"Where are you going up to?",  an elderly gentleman asked Prakash, cutting into their conversation.

"Me too", the gentleman replied with a slow nod.

The elderly gentleman was accompanied by a young couple. There were three more people in the same bay, that makes 6 passengers, but only 4 berths were there.

"No chance sir. Coach is full. Not even a single berth is available", TTE's voice broke his attention. TTE was replying to a fellow passenger who happens to board the compartment with a waitlisted ticket he bought from the station counter.

Later, he examined the tickets from elderly gentleman's and the rest. "Sir, I have a partial waitlisted ticket", Prakash said, showing his ticket to be examined.

"I can't confirm the waitlisted ticket. If you find some empty berths, feel free to occupy", saying thus the TTE moved to next bay.

TTE have just checked 6 tickets from 4 berths. Some of them must be traveling on partial waitlisted tickets then. Thinking thus, Prakash initiated a small talk with the rest in his bay.

"Do you have confirmed ticket sir", Prakash asked the gentleman.

"No", came the reply in a very low tone as if he is sad. "Three of us are traveling, but we could get only one confirmed ticket", he replied. After a brief chat, Prakash came to know that their status before final charting were WL 13, 14 and 15.

Indian railways have cleverly confirmed WL 11 and 13 so that 5 people can travel with 2 berth allotment!

What an idea Suresh Ji!
(Suresh Prabhu was the railway minister when this trip happened).

Sep 15, 2017

Why linking Aadhaar with voter ID is a bad idea.

"If the govt has guts, they should first link Aadhar with voter ID", reads one of the comments on Times of India article. The article was about linking Aadhar with driving license. I've often received this kind of comments and suggestions in WhatsApp and Facebook from various people. These people are to a large extent apolitical and so their views need to be considered seriously. Nevertheless, it is a very bad idea to think of linking Aadhar with voter ID.

Election commission of India is an autonomous body and their main objective is to conduct a free and fair election and declare the results. To ensure this, they have to be independent of govt of India, but for financial reasons. On the other hand, Govt of India have a say in policy issues and are also accountable. Govt can have the policy to reduce the burden of poor by providing various subsidies. To achieve this, they may use any means of technology including Aadhar.

Govt can have the policy to keep a check on tax sheets. For this, they may ask us to link our bank accounts with Aadhar. Zero tolerance for terrorism is one of the key policies of the govt for which they may want us to link mobile numbers with Aadhar. However, conducting free and fair election comes under the purview of the election commission. Govt has no role to play here.

It is even worse if for argument sake govt and election commission agrees to link the two. Conducting election will come under direct control of govt, which is very bad for our democracy. The only feasible solution is Election commission has to add the biometric feature to voter ID independently and maintain it as well. But this solution is very expensive and will only become an additional burden to taxpayers.