Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The 100 Prisoners Problem

Swami Gulagulaananda asked:
"Where would you stand to save your life?"

Here is a simple problem. Go ahead and try to solve it...

In an island are stranded 100 people and you are one among them. You were captured by tribals, who say that only one among the 100 can survive. And here is the condition. One of you is given an axe. And he has to hack and kill the guy to his right, and pass the axe to the guy after him. And the cycle continues...

So, if the people were numbered 1, 2, 3.... 100, then 1 kills 2, and gives to 3. 3 kills 4 and gives it to 5 and so on. The 99th guy kills 100th guy and passes it back to 1, who kills number 3 and so on. The question is, if you were in that group, where would you stand to be the last man standing?

And the solution is... *Spoiler Alert*
There are 3 ways of solving this.

Method I
One, is by finding a pattern. Do it for groups of 1, 2, 3 and so on... say till 10.
If the group had 1 guy, survivor = 1
If the group had 2 guys, survivor = 1
If the group had 3 guys, survivor = 3
If the group had 4 guys, survivor = 1
If the group had 5 guys, survivor = 3
If the group had 6 guys, survivor = 5
If the group had 7 guys, survivor = 7
If the group had 8 guys, survivor = 1
Just continue, you will see the pattern. For every number where the value is equal to 2 to power of n, as in 1, 2, 4, 8... the survivor is person 1. For any other number, the survivor is = 1 + (2 times the difference between the nearest two power number).

The answer by the way is 73rd position...

Method II
Programming! We played this game just to come up with answers... The following are the 3 solutions each one of us came up with in a different language...

Solution in Python (Shortest program written by co-worker Amod Pandey, but took the most time to finish :P)

Solution in Ruby, which I wrote - I finished second, I have some trace statement for help :

And this is what I wrote subsequently...
And my final submission in Ruby, based on the PDF solution below...
And Niyaz has written in Javascript... He finished coding the fastest. Here it is.

Subsequent vastly improved solutions by Niyaz - One line solutions!!
This one is in Javascript
And one more in Python

Finally, Shashank's Java code.

And then I solved this using Linked Lists
Method III
Apparently this problem is called Josephus problem. My friends Goutham Kamath and Prashanth Harshangi knew the problem along with a really fancy solution - they have provided the link to a PDF file here

Monday, 13 February 2012

The story of the Muslim boy, raised by a Hindu man

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"To think such great people exist in this day and age... I must really salute you, Sir"

It was later than usual when he got up. The cold outside had made him feel so comfortable under the blanket he had snuggled and he hadn't even realised he had passed the time he used to wake up normally. He woke up with a start and looked at the clock. “Darn it!” he cursed, as he set about his morning routine. As he was locking the door of his hut, his neighhbour's wife called out to him. “Kishan bhaiya, how come you are still here at this time? Isn't it later than your usual time?”. Kishan looked at her with a wan smile as he covered his ears with the orange cloth that he had around his neck. “You know how the cold is, sister. Makes me feel so lazy. Ok, I am off now. Have a great day”.

A few minutes later, he had his neatly organised push cart fully set up in front of the mosque. As he was busy heating the milk with his kerosene stove, two men came out of the mosque after finishing their morning prayers. “Oh Kishan! What is this we see? You are heating your milk now? It's quite late you know”. Kishan grinned at them as he hurriedly placed a small bench in front of his mobile tea shop. “Don't worry, brother. The tea will be ready by the time you finish the front page of today's newspaper” he said as he offered the morning paper.

In the park next to the mosque, three young boys, around 10 years old were busy playing hide and seek. One of the boys heard the weak cries of a child. He walked around looking for the source of the cries when he found a little boy, around 3 years old sitting alone in the grass, wailing. He quickly called his other friends, and together they asked where his mother was. The crying boy shook his head, and didn't say anything. The boys decided to get the help of adults, and they ran towards their homes. The boy who found the child had his house closest to the mosque. His mother had just come out of the door when the boys told her that there was a crying child in the park. “Did you beat him?” asked the mother in a stern voice on hearing that the child was crying. “Of course not. We don't beat small kids. He was crying when we found him” answered her son, slightly flushed on hearing the insinuation. The concerned woman went along with her son and his friends to the park. Along the way, they met Kishan, who on hearing the story decided to accompany them.

They found the crying child in the same spot. There was nobody around that place. So, Kishan asked the child to stop crying in a soothing voice. Once the child felt a little comfortable, Kishan coaxed the child to tell his name. “Imran” answered the boy in a soft voice. “What's your father's name?” asked Kishan. “Abbu...” answered the boy. “No, no, that's what you call him. What's his name?” asked Kishan patiently. “Abbu...” answered the innocent child. “Do you know where you stay?” and all other questions relating to his parents or anyone he knew reached dead ends.

Finally, they decided to take the boy to the police station to report that he was a missing child, when they found that the boy had a high fever. His eyes were slightly yellow. So, Kishan decided to take the child to a doctor, and then the police station. The doctor heard Kishan's story as he checked the boy. He turned to Kishan and told him with a tone of appreciation “You have done a very good job. The boy's condition is quite serious. We shouldn't delay any further. Listen Kishan, you don't worry about my fees or the hospital bills. I will waive them all off for you. Just ensure you get the medicines for him”. Kishan was very joyous on hearing this, and thanked the doctor with folded hands.

Even the police who were notified about this were not able to trace the boy's parents, and Kishan decided to take care of the boy himself. His neighbours and well wishers asked if that was the right choice. Kishan was not married, and it was fine as long as he was the only occupant of his house along with little Imran. But once married, he could not be sure if his wife would be alright raising someone else's child. Not to forget that the boy was of a different religion. A Muslim in the house of a Hindu? Are you sure? Why don't you raise him as a Hindu? Nobody will know it, he's just three years old. He won't even remember. Such suggestions were completely ignored by Kishan who looked at them all and said “No! I will know it. He is a Muslim, and I will raise him as a Muslim boy, with all the traditional values that a Muslim family would have taught him.” Some people thought that it could not be sustained. “Why don't you convert to Islam and marry a Muslim woman? I am sure she will understand” told someone to him. “Each person has his or her own beliefs and faith. Who says that two people cannot believe in two different Gods and yet live under the same roof?” said Kishan.

And he put his words into action. Kishan took the boy to a Muslim priest and brought him up with a Muslim background. He himself, however, being a Hindu continued to worship independently. A unique and wonderful situation had developed, we always hear about Unity in diversity, and here was a poor tea shop owner, who eked out a living selling tea, and yet had greater values than most of the educated and literate people.

Five years had passed, and 3 year old Imran was now 8 years old. Everyone was happy that the boy had been growing so well. Kishan had still not been married. One day, a local news reporter came to that tea shop, and some time latter heard about this unique story. She decided that this unique story should be known to the world. And quite soon, the story was heard by thousands of people, all of whose hearts were touched by the noble Kishan's deed. However, the news also reached the ears of Imran's biological parents. They decided to get the child back, and soon, there was a confusion. Imran and Kishan didn't want to part with each other. For Imran, Kishan was both his father and mother. And Imran was Kishan's son, though not legally. And thus followed a lawsuit. Imran's parents wanted the child back, and then after the DNA test proved that they were indeed his parents, the case was fought in court.

It seems Imran's father had been heavily drunk, and in the stupour, had left his son in the park and forgotten completely. It was only after his horrified wife raised a ruckus that he realised his folly, but unfortunately he didn't even remember where the child was. Kishan's lawyer said that the father might be his biological father, but didn't exhibit the behaviour of a responsible parent. Moreover, he was a habitual drunkard, and his bad influence would be disastrous on an impressionable child. The opposing lawyer, brought out all the points against Kishan, which were known. Including them being of two different religions, that his future wife might despise him, and so on. The case seemed to be tilting in favour of the Muslim couple, Imran's biological parents. Imran and Kishan were praying that they should never be separated. When asked why Kishan wanted to take care of Imran so desperately, Kishan only smiled and said that he felt that Imran was a gift of God, and he had been attached to him. The lawyer asked him why he had not given the boy his name? The lawyer went on putting words in his mouth, said that the name was not given because Kishan never intended for Imran to be his son, so that all connections and ties could be severed at will. Kishan said nothing. Do you even know how suffocating it is for a Muslim boy to grow up in a Hindu household? Tell me Mr. Kishan, how would you feel if you were raised in a Muslim household, where everyone around you were Muslims? Would you not feel suffocated?

And then, suddenly, a man wearing a white shirt raises his hand and addressed the court, requesting for permission to speak. This was a strange turn of events, because this man was not called to appear by either lawyers. The man seemed to know Kishan however. He came and patted on Kishan's shoulder, and took his place in the witness stand.

And then narrated the most incredible story. The man's name was Mohammad. When he was a child, his father had brought home a little boy, a boy who had no knowledge about his parents or their whereabouts. This boy, was Kishan. The young Mohd had asked his father if he would take the name of Khan (which was his surname) to which his father had told him, “No, my son. He has his own identity. His name is Kishan, and he will continue to be a Hindu as he was meant to be.” His wife was upset. She had refused to prepare food separately for the Hindu boy who didn't eat Muslim food by habit. The husband coaxed her, and convinced her, told her that a little extra rice and one small portion of curry wouldn't hurt anyone. The wife, on the husband's insistence, had agreed. Years passed, and the Hindu Kishan grew up in a Muslim household. His foster father had been on his death bed. Mohd and Kishan were at their father's side along with his foster mother. “You are both my sons, and it is time for me to leave this world. I want you both to have an equal share of my property.” The father had said. But Kishan spoke to his father first, and with folded hands said that all the property rightfully belonged to Mohd. He thanked his father and mother, for raising him. He told them that they were greater than God to him, for they had provided for him. That, in itself was greater than anything else he could have ever asked for. Mohd stepped in and chided his brother. He told him that Kishan was being silly, that they were a family. But Kishan refused. The mother's eyes welled with tears on seeing how noble her foster son was.

Kishan had insisted that he would start his own tea stall, and instead of continuing with his father's business, had set out to find a path for himself. Mohd, in the meanwhile had gone off to Dubai, and it was only the last week that he had arrived. On reaching Lucknow, he came to know about this situation, and it was then he realised what his noble brother had set out to do. He had realised that nature had given him the same situation, the situation his father had had with him. And he had decided to repay his debts to nature, to God, by taking care of this boy, by raising him with the same values as his own father had done. And that is the story of Kishan, your honour. I know he is too noble to have told this story, and I wanted to share this with you. I don't know if you will take this into account for your decision, but I felt you should know this.

Kishan won the case, and the custody of Imran, and even the next appeal in the high court. The unique case is now pending in the supreme court. But the Muslim Imran continues to happily stay with his foster father, the Hindu Kishan.

This is a true story – the original names of Kishan and Imran are apparently Aiku Lal and Akbar. This story appeared in Crime Patrol with these changed names, and I wanted to share this touching story with you guys. Incredible India, don't you think? It makes me really proud to think such people still exist in this day and age, where people of different religions continue to live in unity. No conversion was attempted. They retained their original identity and yet they are far superior at heart.

I would really appreciate it if you can share this story with others. Not necessarily this post, but the story itself... Let us spread this story, let everyone know what India is really about.

You might also like to read:
Tarka - The story of the escaped convict

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Why Valentine's Day is stupid and dangerous

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Some times people don't even understand that they are already inside the Matrix :-/ "

The following post has been taken from here. Go ahead and read this with an open mind.

Beware of Valentine's Day - A cultural conversion of Hindus !


HJS call youth to oust 'Valentine's Day'

        Focussing their attention on only materialistic development while dreaming about making Bharat a 'Super Power', the so called Secular rulers have completely neglected our culture. As a result of this, youth of this country is keen on following the western culture like 'Valentine's Day' forgetting great Bharatiya culture. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) is calling upon the youth to oust Western 'Valentine's Day' which ruins their morality and be proud of their own mother tongue, Nation and Dharma. This call is given by HJS in order to dissuade the youth from celebrating the 'Valentine's Day' on 14th February.

Table of content

1. Introduction

        14th February is popularly known as 'Valentine's Day'. Adolescent girls and boys express their love for each other by exchanging flowers and gifts as a token of love on this day. Most of the times, these adolescents indulge in immoral acts under the pretext of 'Valentine's Day'. Does real love require this superficial display and can it be confined to just one day? 'Valentine's Day' is responsible for the propagation of western culture and incitement of youth towards unrestrained behaviour. It is the western custom to put parents in old age homes and then celebrate flashy Mother's Day and Father's Day love which is put on display for just one day ! Now this madness is taking root in our beloved Hindustan which has the richest and most sublime culture in the world.
        Is love only limited to physical attraction ? Love is present in sacred relationships such as the Guru and the disciple, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and even towards ones motherland. If young revolutionaries, such as Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Madan Lal Dhingra and Chapekar who sacrificed their lives in their youth, had spent their days celebrating days such as Valentine's days then we would never be able to enjoy freedom today. What pain their souls must be suffering in seeing their dreams being shattered in this way !
        Shivaji Maharaj took the vow of establishing Hindavi Swarajya at a tender age of sixteen and went on to unite the Mawala youth of his age and thus sowed the seeds of Swarajya (self governance) and pride in Dharma. Why don't we look at these great people as our ideal? Do you really think that the so called 'Saint Valentine' who directs the youth towards the wrong path of allurement of woman is superior to the above mentioned Great men?
        It is said that love can conquer the world; then why couldn't we win Kashmir with love? If the love of 'Valentine' is so powerful then why can't his love change the hearts of terrorists creating havoc in Kashmir and killing innumerable innocent brethren of ours in rest of Hindustan? In today's times when 10 young terrorists from Pakistan attack our country with an intention to destroy it, why should our young generation in contrast get trapped in the celebration of 'Valentine's Day' ? Therefore this is a call to harness the power of our youth to turn them towards the defence of the Nation and Dharma...
O, Hindu Youth, Why fall for the trap of 'Valentine's Day'? Instead get ready to fight the calamities befalling the Nation and Hindu Dharma!

2. The History of Christian Saint (?) Valentine

        In the olden days Rome had the culture of Idol-worship. In those days, the period between February 13 to 15, used to be celebrated as the 'Reproduction Festival' and was called 'Lupercalia'. However to destroy their culture of idol worship and their Christianisation, Pope Galasis (First) connected Valentine with 14th February and started the practice of celebrating 'Valentine's Day'. There was no connection between 'Valentine's Day' and 'Love' until the fourteenth century.
        Similarly according to some, in third century AD, Saint Claudius (2nd) was a king of Rome. With a view to strengthen his army he gave a call to all the youth to join the army. He even made it compulsory for them to join the army, thinking that if they marry then they would be busy with their household and that would obstruct their love and duty towards their country; so he forced them not to marry. The people of the country did not appreciate this decision much. One of them was Christian priest, 'Saint Valentine'. He rebelled against the king's order. He instigated the youth against the king. Finally the king imprisoned him and gave a punishment to hang him. While in jail he was in love with the jailor's daughter. Valentine who had renounced all worldly things to become a priest, was himself got lured by the young daughter of the jailor. 'Valentine's Day' is celebrated in his memory. What benefit are Hindus going to derive by remembering such sinful Valentine?

3. 'Valentine's Day' (14th February) is not celebrated in many of the western countries!

        Bharatiyas feel great by celebrating averse western days like 'Valentine's Day' due to slavery to westerners. The fact is that in many western countries 'Valentine's Day' is not celebrated at all. Not only this, but while publishing the revised calendar of the Roman Catholic Saints in general, 'Valentine's Day' is omitted in it. If this is so then why should it be given so much importance in Bharat? Religious festivals, vowed religious observances (Vrat-Vaikalye) which have originated through Bharat's glorious culture have no parallel.
        There is science behind each festival. The sages and mendicants have written down in scriptures, how to celebrate each festival, what are its physical, mental and spiritual benefits etc. Many have attained glory by celebrating them even now. By following our culture we enhance good qualities and at the same time remove our personality defects. We imbibe Values. On the whole Bharatiya culture, celebration of these festivals are beneficial to whole humanity. The youth should keep before them Hindu National leaders as their ideal and they should try to celebrate their Birth and Death Anniversaries, thereby imbibing their qualities. It is everyone's duty to protect our culture and Nation from such western perverse attacks.

4. What is the harm in celebrating 'Valentine's Day' ?


  1. There is no scientific or cultural basis to celebrating this day.
  2. Valentine the 'saint' himself was involved in the anti-national acts during his time, then how one can get any benefit by celebrating this day in his name ?
  3. On this day young girls and boys come together at pubs, sea shores, hotels, colleges etc and indulge in indecent acts. A common person finds it difficult to even go around such places at this time. Some organisations organize such programs where the young boys and girls can stay together.
  4. The young students of schools and colleges are falling prey to this alien cultural influence and express their 'love' for each other by way of exchanging greeting cards. In reality what they experience at this tender and immature age is not love but a mere superficial attraction to the opposite sex.
  5. Psychiatrists can site several cases of people who have 'proposed' on 'Valentine's day' due to various shades of mental turmoil. Women who have been duped or lured by them and have married them have had to suffer great mental and physical torture.
  6. This practice is damaging as it results in a long lasting negative effect on any youth's career and also on society.
  7. The seeds of immorality which are planted on this day, later cause the destabilization of society through a general fall in morality.
  8. We can recognize a direct attack from an enemy outside but this cultural invasion is insidious and very difficult to recognize and so it is difficult to defend ourselves from its evil results.
  9. Cultural derailment always results in society heading towards destruction. This is what we are experiencing today in our Bharat (India).
  10. Many western countries do not celebrate this day. The Calendar of Roman Catholic Saints' was prepared in 1969, 'Valentines Day' was omitted from the general Roman calendar. If this is so, then why should we honour this day in our Hindustan?
  11. Western culture provides for placing parents in 'old age homes' and then superficially celebrates Mother's Day' and Father's Day' for just one day ! Can real love be limited to just a day ? Indian culture has a number of festivals that express love towards each other and these deep rooted bonds of love are an intrinsic part of our lifestyle.

5. The detrimental effects of 'Valentine's Day'!

Today we are blindly following the western culture under the name of 'Valentines Day'. The young students of schools and colleges are falling prey to such culture and express their love to each other by way of exchanging greeting cards. But actually speaking it is not love but a mere attraction to the opposite sex at a tender and immature age. During my practice of over 15 years I have seen several such mentally ill patients who have stuck to their mental illness by 'proposing' on 'Valentine's Day'. Following are some live examples -
1. One day one couple came to the Panchakarma Department of 'Yerala Ayurved College' for undergoing Pancha Karma treatment and health consultation. The woman was a Maharashtrian and the man was from Punjab. They had done inter-caste marriage. Both of them were studying at a private college. They were classmates. They had proposed to each other by way of exchanging love in the form of a greeting card on a Valentines Day function in the college. After the marriage however the man was found to be a sadist. The different nature and environment affected her emotional, mental and spiritual development and her condition deteriorated into a grave mental illness.
2. In a second case, a couple visited the 'Keraliya Ayurved Centre' at Panvel for psychological treatment. The husband was a Malyali and his wife a Maharashtrian. They got acquainted with each other while working in the office. They got married on Valentine's Day by going to a church. However after marriage she came to realize the huge difference between their culture, language, customs and in their intellectual level of functioning. This made a huge impact on the woman and lead to her health deteriorating. - Dr. Rajiv Bhosekar, Psychiatrist, Hyderabad, AP, Bharat.

6. 'Valentine's Day' confers no spiritual benefit !

1. In case of festivals and celebrations as per the Hindu Dharma, humans benefit from the divine frequencies transmitted from the Universe on these days. On the contrary, there is no such benefit in case of 'Valentine's Day.'
2. Various days of the likes of 'Valentine's Day' that have originated from the blind emulation of the western culture are based on materialism. A person who follows them acquires the raja-tama (raja-passion, tama-inertia and ignorance) pre-dominant state due to degradation of values and decency. On the contrary, regular practise of values, festivals, traditions and religious observances as per the Hindu culture helps one acquire a sattvik (pious) state of mind and makes one happy, content and balanced.

7. Bharatiya youth, do not blindly ape the Western culture but follow our age-old traditions and values!

        When someone extends a helping hand, a Westerner will acknowledge it by offering 'thanks' and walk away; whereas an Indian will never forget a good deed or a favour bestowed upon him by someone. Parents relentlessly toil for our happiness since our birth and it is next to impossible to repay this debt. That is the precise reason why the parents have been treated as Guru in Indian culture. Indian culture encourages the youth to express their love and respect for their parents by bowing and seeking their blessings everyday. We do not celebrate 'Father's or Mother's day' like Westerners. Present Indian young generation is blindly following Western culture by celebrating 'Friendship Day', 'Valentine's Day', 'Rose Day', 'Jeans's Day' etc. Such celebrations do not exhibit true love and gratitude but is an excuse for enjoyment and is just a formality without any meaning. The love shown through such celebration is restricted to a day. Today's youth should realize that what one owes to his parents can not be repaid by 'cutting cake', 'presenting a greetings card' or by celebrating a 'Day'; but the real repayment would be to become an ideal son or an ideal daughter i.e. to become an ideal citizen, to look after them like the great devotee 'Bhakta Prahlad'. 

8. An appeal to devout and patriotic citizens for Protection of Culture!

  • Meet Principals, Professors, the Board of Directors and Representatives of Students' organizations by going to Schools, Colleges and Private tuitions and request them to educate the youth against the observation of 'Valentine's Day' !
  • Create awareness in this regard amongst friends and contacts.
  • Distribute pamphlets such as this to prevent the celebration of 'Valentine's Day' !
  • Display the banners or boards in your area with such contents !
  • Lodge protests with those companies manufacturing greeting cards meant for canvassing 'Valentine's Day'!
  • Lodge protests with such colleges who silently give consent for celebrating 'Valentine's Day' by way of actual visits, telephone calls or other constitutional ways !

9. Remember the National Heroes for the protection of Nation and Dharma!

        The time has come when all the people including the young generation have to be explained about the depth in the divine meaning of Love. It is the need of the hour that those national heroes who have sacrificed so much for the love of this Hindu land ought to be remembered not only for the benefit of the young generation but also for the whole population to get ready for the protection of our languages, our Nation and our Dharma. Therefore do celebrate the following remembrance day programmes in February !

1. Death Anniversary of Revolutionary Vasudev Balwant Phadke (17th February)
2. Birth Anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (19th February)
3. Death Anniversary of Swatantryaveer V.D.Sawarkar (26th February)
4. Martyrdom Day of Chandrashekhar Azad (27th February)

On these occasions we can arrange image worship and lectures in schools, colleges, Chowks and educate the people about the current state of our languages, our nation and our Dharma.
Prevent the intellectual and cultural proselytization ( conversion) of Hindus on 'Valentine's Day'!

10. It is time to change the days that defy our ethos ! - H.H. Dr. Jayant Athavale, Sanatan Sanstha

H.H. Dr. Athavale
H.H. Dr. Athavale
Since Hinduism is ancient and eternal, it relates everything to various forms of God. Following examples will bring home the Greatness of Hinduism. They will also throw light on how the Bharatiyas  are still under the psychological bondage of the British. 

Example 1: The frequencies of Prajapati come to the Earth in larger measures on the day of Gudipadva. However instead of celebrating that day as the 'New Year' day, the Government celebrates 1st January as the New Year's day, which is not based on any Principle. 
Example 2: Instead of calculating time based on the Bhartiya Culture ('Shalivahan Shaka') the Government uses the Christian Era (A.D), which has no relevance to any particular time or zone. 
Example 3: The Guru Principle decends on Earth in large measures on the day of Gurupournima. In all fairness that day should be celebrated as 'Teachers Day'. However it is celebrated on the birth anniversary of Ex-President Dr.Radhakrishnan. 

In the Ishwariya Rajya (Divine Kingdom) we are going to change all such things which are not related to Hindu Religion and Culture in anyway. 

To know Hindu culture visit : Hinduism Section

Kailasanatha Temple - A wonderful story

Baba Gyani Triviani said:
"Many times, if you can't think of a solution to a problem in one direction, think of it from another angle"

The Rashtrakutas were a great dynasty that ruled over South India for a while. Among their achievements and feats, the greatest that most people remember and admire in awe in today, is their architecture at Ellora and other places. The most prominent and notable temple is the Kailasanatha temple.

I remember this story that I had read as a child, about the Rashtrakutas that I would like to share today. The greatness of the Kailasanatha temple and a whole lot of temples around that area is that... Well, I would have told you right now, but it is going to become a spolier. So read on :-)

The great Rashtrakuta king Krishna I and his mother were one day walking in Ellora when she turned to her son and said - "You had promised me that you would build a great temple in dedication to Lord Shiva. And I am very disappointed in you, for not fulfilling that promise." Krishna had forgotten it. His mother, angrily said "I shall not eat a single morsel of food till I see the Gopura of the temple." and walked away. For those who are not familiar with the Gopura, it is the ornate structure at the very top of the temple.

The Gopura is one of the last areas of construction of temples. Starting from the foundation, the time taken to reach the very top (Gopura) of the temple would require a substantial amount of time. The king didn't know what to do. He tried to reason with his mother, pleaded, saying that he would try to get it done as soon as possible. But his mother firmly told him that her oath had been taken. The king was now in a dilemma. And then a great architect, on knowing the problem came to the king with a solution to the conundrum. He whispered something into the ears of the king. The king looked at him, shocked and in awe. He asked again, "Can that be done?". "My men are the most skilled artists and craftsmen. Don't worry, oh great King. The queen mother will eat soon". In a couple of days, the king Krishna brought his mother to the region, a great stony canyon like region, and lo! She saw the great Gopura and a saffron flag fluttering in all of its glory. She couldn't believe her eyes. As she walked towards the edge, she was shocked to see that the Gopura stood on a large boulder. The crafty architect had built only the Gopura on the top of a rock. The queen mother's wish was completed, and she broke her fast.

And then began the craftsmen, slowly, meticulously and without a single error, chipping the rock off, and creating the truly magnificent temple. One must only see the temples (albeit now slightly disfigured due to attacks by Muslim kings) to truly understand how spectacular they are. And when you understand the great pains (in those days, there were no machines) taken by the craftsmen to create a masterpiece, completely backwards, you will be able to appreciate them even more - And that is why India has a great and rich cultural past. I wish we can bring back that resplendent glory to our present and future.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A lesson to be learnt from the Sikhs

Swami Gulagulaananda said:

I came across a very nice article today. It's a short story, but very nice. Go ahead and read it.
We all love Sardar jokes. But do you know that Sikhs are one of the hardest working, prosperous and diversified communities in the world! 
My friend told me about the following incident which I wish to share with you. It has had a deep impact on my thinking. 
During the last vacation, a few friends came to Delhi . They rented a taxi for local sight-seeing. The driver was an old Sardar and boys being boys, these pals began cracking Sardarji jokes, just to tease the old man. But to their surprise, the fellow remained unperturbed.. 
At the end of the sight-seeing, they paid the cab hire charges. The Sardar returned the change, but he gave each one of them one rupee extra and said,''Sons, since morning you have been telling Sardarji jokes. I listened to them all and let me tell you, some of them were in bad taste. Still, I don't mind coz I know that you are young blood and are yet to see the world. But I have one request. I am giving you one rupee each. Give it to the first Sardar beggar that you come across in this or any other city !!!"
My friend continued, "That one rupee coin is still with me. I couldn't find a single Sardar begging anywhere." 
The secret behind their universal success is their willingness to do any job with utmost dedication and pride. A Sardar will drive a truck or set up a roadside garage or a dhaba, run a fruit juice stall, take up small time carpentry, ... but he will never beg on the streets

Because Sikhs contribute:

* 33% of total income tax
* 67% of total charities
* 45% of Indian Army

* 59,000++ Gurudwaras serve LANGAR to 5,900,000+ people everyday!

& All this when THEY make only 1.4% of the total INDIAN POPULATION.
Frankly, I have never seen a Sikh beggar either. I am not sure about the authenticity of the statistics given, but one should understand the way in which they work as a community.

A major problem I notice (as would most of you) is that, people are so much into themselves, they don't see the bigger picture. When people are pumping money for betterment, they do so to help their own communities. Which is great - For example, the Gujrathis apparently work in a way where the Gujrathi community has a collaborative fund. Entrepreneurs tap into this fund, invest into their business. And when they are sufficiently successful, they start contributing back to the fund, to help others grow. This is the way to development.

If we are going to be thinking about ourselves all the time, sure, we may be able to grow. But then if people around you don't, it is going to be damaging to you in the longer run. Notice how the Sikhs serve Langar to a large number of people - which is basically serving food, free of cost, to everyone, irrespective of your background. For, society can develop only if society develops as a whole.

As long as we continue to think along the divisive lines of caste, we will never be able to progress. And these dastardly politicians intend to deepen and widen the already existing grooves by introducing quotas and sub-quotas. Ridiculous. We should also learn from the animals, the way in which they unite against common predators. We are all aware of the predators.

Go ahead and do something good. It could be as simple as forwarding a resume to someone. If that person gets the job, (s)he will be very thankful. And there will be development in that person's life, which will naturally lead to an avalanche effect. The converse is also true...  Let us pledge today, to do something nice, however small it could be - for the development of the society.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Shankaracharya and the Chandala - Last Caste

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Krishna goes on to describe the soul as that which cannot be cut by weapons, that which cannot be burnt, made wet or dried in the immortalised Shloka - nainam chindanti shastraaNi......."

The caste system in India is a weird issue - people don't understand what it is... And yet, they screw around with it a lot. I happened to attend a function recently, where the poojari told what caste is in brief - he said, people were divided into four castes on the basis of the kind of work they used to do. But then, God Himself said that the four castes are Brahmins, who are like My face, Kshatriyas, who are like My shoulders/arms, Vaishyas who are like My thighs/legs and Sudras who are like My feet.

A quick glance by pseudo secular people (read Congress) would result in saying - Aha! See? Brahmins are given the position of the head, while OBC/SC/ST people are merely feet. But then he continued. He said, note that they are all part of God, and that nobody is greater or lesser. Given a chance, would you cut your feet off and say they are lowly? No! For a complete functioning of the society, every part is needed - and they are there, because they are to be there. Note, that the four positions are merely symbolic - symbolic of the kind of occupation they had - Brahmins, whose life revolved around their brains, their acumen, didn't have powerful arms like the Kshatriyas who were powerful, who used to fight and defend. And similarly the Vaishyas and the Sudras had their own jobs. But it is understandable that people don't get symbolism. Heck, the greatest saint of all time, Shankaracharya, who was so supremely intelligent that he was considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva Himself, didn't get it. Here's a short story...
Once Shankaracharya was walking in the forest and he comes across a chandala (Chandala is considered to be lower than all the four castes of the Varna system, sometimes called as Panchama - or the fifth) walking four dogs. So the Brahmin Sankaracharya stops and says, "Hey, get away from me. Remove these dogs and your own filthy self from my vicinity so I can pass.

   So the chandala turns around and asks him a metaphysical question - A question fit for the philosopher that Sankaracharya is. The chandala asks him, "Do you want the 'dehi' to go away or 'deham' to go away?" (Dehi is soul and deham is body.) Sankaracharya does not like dogs but likes a puzzle - especially a theological one. So he ponders the chandala's question, since he is interested in soul and its problems. 

   And since the chandala's question knocks at the very door of Shankaracharya's metaphysics, he understands immediately that the chandala is none other than Shiva and the four dogs, the four vedas. So he falls at the feet of the chandala and acknowledges his error.
The beauty of  this short story is that he understands that the soul, as Lord Krishna says in the Gita, is one that simply discards bodies like clothes. Therefore the same soul can be a Brahmin in this birth, and a Sudra or a Chandala even in its next. So, the soul can never be impure... Krishna goes on to describe the soul as that which cannot be cut by weapons, that which cannot be burnt, made wet or dried in the immortalised Shloka - nainam chindanti shastraaNi....... And the body also cannot be impure - for every one is born alike, the body constituents are alike - and it is only by fate (chance, ye atheists),  that you are born in one family and not the other. Thus, nor can the body be impure...

-- Unfortunately, given today's political scenario in India, the whole country would rather be fighting to be called backward... The reservation system needs to be rooted off, my strong opinion.

You may also like to read:
What makes Yudhishtira so great? - Asked Arjuna to Lord Krishna

Sunday, 5 February 2012

One sees what one wants to see

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"One sees what one wants to see"

This is a short story I had read as a child in school, I think it was in the then-popular magazine for kids, Gokulam.

The story begins with Krishna and Arjuna having a conversation. Arjuna asks Lord Krishna why everyone thinks Yudhishtira is considered as great. Krishna takes Arjuna for a walk. He calls Duryodhana and then calls a random soldier. He then points the soldier out to Duryodhana and asks him to tell one hundred points about that man. Duryodhana says that the man was lazy, got his wife to do every thing for him, used to squander earnings, beat her occassionally, etc. He thanks Duryodana and a few minutes later asks Yudhishtira the same question. Yudhishtira looks at the man and says that the man was one who had helped out his friends and neighbours, was a loving father, never cheated on his wife, religious, etc. Thanking him, Krishna turns to Arjuna and says - "Did you see? It was the same person who was being described by two different individuals. The very same person, and yet, the perspective is so different. Never is any person completely good or completely bad - everyone has shades of grey. It is what we choose to see that makes them what they are to us. Yudhishtira is a man who sees good in everyone, and that is because of his own goodness. That, my friend, is the reason why he is considered as great". Arjuna bowed to Krishna on understanding the great words of wisdom and felt proud of his brother.

The story may not have happened in the real Mahabharata - but I personally always liked the story. Short, crisp and yet tells a lot about people... I notice many people nursing great hatred for Gandhi - Sure, the man had his shortcomings, but he had his strengths. Like Krishna said, no person is a hundred percent perfect. We need to respect goodness and criticise mistakes. However, people tend to take extreme steps and brand people. So, this is just a pointer to people to remember - the goodness you see in others, is a reflection of the goodness within you.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Haunted House

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"Just because you close your eyes and can't see anything, doesn't mean that there exists nothing around you"

You can now read the story from the book - Swami G's Short Stories

Other stories that you might want to read
  • Just let go - Story of a man stuck in a theatre with his wife, but he has a nagging feeling to leave, and knows that things will be horribly wrong.... unless he lets go
  • The Medallion - Starts off with a typical Bollywood story, the medallion has a Hollywood ending. A story about a boy with a copper medallion who loses his younger brother in a crowded railway station, and culminates with the twists of fate.
  • My race against time - A man describes the race against time... the constant running
  • The girl who was a ghost before she died - A freaky real life story (Other parts are linked at the bottom, so be sure to catch them all)

Friday, 3 February 2012

An unnecessary action

Swami Nikhilaananda said:
"It is better to avoid unnecessary action, than battle unnecessary reaction"

This is a story that I had read a very long time back. The story starts with a sage and his disciple deciding to take rest under a large tree in a village after having a long and tiresome journey. As they relax, they observe a shopkeeper in a nearby shop who had accidentally dipped his finger in a jar of honey idly rubbing it off against the wall of his shop. The sage remarks "That was a rather unnecessary action..." The disciple looks at the sage and gives a look of bewilderment - "What's wrong with it?" he asks.

The sage doesn't reply, and insists on resting a little longer. As time passes, a swarm of flies gather around the honey. After some time, a lizard notices the flies and decides to have a nice meal. As the lizard is busy feeding on the flies, a beautiful brown cat arrives at the scene and decides to poke the lizard. While the cat is busily pawing the lizard and chasing it around, a smart dog appears on the scene and starts chasing the cat down the street. As the frightened cat runs to her master, the master decides to teach the dog a lesson and pelts a stone at the pooch. The dog runs yelping back to his master.

Now the unfortunate part of the story is that the owners of the dog and the cat belonged to families that nursed great hatred for each other. The attack on the dog was deemed as a deliberate act of insolence and there begins a fight. Soon, supporters of both men arrive at the scene and in the ensuing hullabaloo, an over enthusiastic lackey of one of the teams throws a burning stick onto the thatches of the other. And soon a retaliation follows. Within a few minutes, a large number of shops in the busy market area are seen burning down as the men are baying for blood and fighting. As the thick dark smoke rises, the sage and the disciple who were well away from the scene turn to look at each other. The disciple falls at the feet of his preceptor, understanding the great repercussions of an unnecessary action...

Note: You may say that this is a great coincidence or that this can never happen - that is not true. However, understand that this is along the lines of the butterfly effect. Some times, an action of no seemingly great consequence can bring about catastrophic results, and also some times good results. Therefore, it is always better to be careful before doing anything...