www.internet.in

As of writing this post, below is the list of countries by number of internet users


India has a penetration of just 12.6% (but already at rank 3) with the number only slated to grow steeply with the slew of cheap internet enabled mobile devices flooding the market and the lowering costs of internet access. The US has more or less already reached its limit with 81% and its safe to say that the Chinese government's policies will not allow China's 42.3% of users to engage with the rest of the world through the internet. It seems inevitable that Indians will form the major number of netizens very VERY soon.

So, you'd better expect a LOT of fraaaaaaandship requests in the near future!

The Bhagavad Gita: An Exercise In Depression


The Bhagavad Gita is considered to be one of the holiest books by Hindus. It describes the education that Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu distills into Arjuna, a warrior of the Pandava clan. In it is contained Hinduism's most essential concepts laid out in as accessible a way as possible without any compromise on the quality of the ideas being dealt with. Its unique position within the epic Mahabharatha further adds to its prominent and even necessary consideration for anybody interested in the Hindu way.

The Gita is Krishna's answer to Arjuna's dilemma regarding the impending Kurukshetra war. Arjuna realizes that in fighting the war he will be forced to kill his own cousins and relatives -  a terror he finds hard to stomach and finds in himself an indecisiveness he has never before experienced, quite uncharacteristic for a warrior of his stature and caliber.

Beck's Cognitive Triad
Before we progress further, I would like to bring to notice Beck's Cognitive Triad which is a widely held indicator of the belief system present in an individual suffering from depression. Borrowing from here, let us see how it maps to Arjuna's predicament.

1. The self is worthless - Arjuna realizes that no matter what he does he is powerless in stopping the guilt and misery that he would face (and therefore lacks in self-worth). If he did not fight the war his brothers (the Pandavas) would be slaughtered but if he did he would be forced to kill his own cousins and relatives.

2. The world is unfair - Arjuna, perhaps for the first time questions the factors that has placed him in his current situation. He makes the rational connection that no matter what he does, he is a sinner for by killing his own relatives he is harming his family and by refusing to fight he is going against his Dharma of being a warrior.

3. The future is hopeless - Arjuna fears the ramifications of any of the choices before him because both lead to his ruin. Pain and guilt from murdering his loved ones could leave him an emotional wreck or the shame and eventual estrangement from abandoning his family and duty at the time when he was most needed.

It becomes clear that Arjuna is in a state of not being able to move forward (with the war) or backward (by abandoning it). He therefore lays down his arms (gives up) and confides in Krishna - his charioteer, his best friend and someone about whom he had always held as there to being something more.

The Modern Man's Solution
Most of the time we err by looking at religious or philosophical treatises by taking them at their face value without first seeing what we can learn from them. It is necessary, before we try to judge a piece of knowledge as having value or not to first try and understand how much of a difference is present between who we are and what the treatise before us is exalting us to be. In much the same spirit let us try to understand what the modern man would do in Arjuna's place.

We have been taught to exercise logic in the place of emotional strife and emotional sensitivity in times of logical conundrums. One would choose the less pricey piece of furniture when two pieces of it have the same appeal and decide based on appeal when they are priced the same. When even this fails we are conditioned to look at the greater good and decide how our decisions would impact society (how would the other people using this piece of furniture experience it?) by actively engaging our theory of mind. With this attitude Arjuna's decision is very clear - he has to fight in the war simply because the Kauravas are the "bad" guys and the Pandavas are the "good" guys. He would be appropriate in claiming onto himself the title of self-sacrificing martyr for the emotional pain and sin that he has to endure for the greater good of the land.

In modern capitalist society where individual freedom is placed as the highest right the concept of Dharma takes a fuzzy position. At best it can be summarized as one's ethical duty to one's profession coupled with the loyalty to one's own brand. In the case of Arjuna his warrior Dharma is considered quite expendable because in today's ideal of equality he could resurface as an expert in any other field and in a totally different social setting (and away from his harmful and dysfunctional familial environment). With this attitude Arjuna's decision is very clear - he has to abandon the war and start over. He needn't unnecessarily take on the sin of murder for what can be interpreted as a pointless war that is happening largely because of pride and irrational and outdated ideas of honour and ownership. As a free man he has a duty to his conscience and his identity as a human being above all. He should choose the path that best ensures his long term survival.

I guess you or I would find either of the above decisions easy to make with support from people close to us.

Krishna's Solution
As you might have guessed Krishna doesn't provide Arjuna with either of the above solutions but eventually Arjuna does decide to fight. What then could Krishna's message have been?

The more self-righteous of my acquaintances have summarized Krishna's message as "Do your best and leave the rest (to Krishna)". On genuinely living with this in mind I realized that it has robbed me of my own faculties of discrimination. The problem never lay in "best", "leave" or "rest" but it may in "Do". I had to ask myself how I knew what to do - and if I then did that whether I was free from ALL repercussions (negative or positive) of my actions?

If I could humbly summarize my understanding of the message of the Gita it is this: "Your life is being lived (by Krishna)". The imago dei whose splendor Krishna shows to Arjuna as his Vishwaroopa (cosmic form) contains within it all potential paths and their consequences that the Ego can experience. Keeping this absolute in mind we can summarize that any path that Arjuna chooses is equally unimportant compared to the magnificence of Krishna.

For those in the darkness that depression puts them under THE key component for recovery is an understanding that everything cannot be perfect all the time. For the more socially insecure, it amounts to the fact that not everybody can be pleased. Eventually in the Gita, Arjuna, like the recovering depressive takes a decisive stand to fight the war (for the future, the greater glory of the Pandava clan and for his Dharma as a Kshatriya) but unlike the modern depressive (who might experience a narcissist rage at the system and those that caused their ordeal) is secure in his understanding of the nature of life itself - that we are nothing but Krishna dreaming consciousness.

Personal Notes
1. Please forgive any factual errors. Do point them out!
2. I understand that I'm grossly reducing the full message of the Bhagavad Gita. You DON'T have to point that out! (But do if you feel like)
3. Thanks for making it to Pt 3. Really.
4. I'm not an expert on the Bhagavad Gita, depression, English or even the human condition. But I am a human being with idle moments which I spend mulling on topics like this article rather than go "meh" at somebody's latest share on a social media platform
5. I'm very aware that the phrase "Your life is being lived" isn't adequately explained but the complete meaning behind that can be found in the Jungian archetype of The Self.

Who Is Lord Shiva?



In Hindu mythology Lord Shiva is considered to be one of the "Trimurti" - a triad of the supreme Gods who reign over the Devas (Gods) and the Asuras (Demons) and the entirety of the cosmos. The Trimurti consist of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with each symbolic of creation, preservation and destruction respectively. Brahma is the one cursed to have the least importance, Vishnu being the one with the most detailed mythology and it is Lord Shiva who is considered to be the most fearsome but shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

Compared to Brahma and Vishnu who have the look of royalty Shiva is portrayed as a singular being in deep meditation most of the time. It is said that when Shiva opens his "third eye" the whole of creation will burn, that when Shiva dances all of creation happens and that when he rides out to war none can stop him. Shrouded in ash of burnt bodies he is considered the lord of the dead with the ability to reanimate them. Veerabhadra and Kali, two very fearsome warriors are at his command and ride out to war with him. Lord Shiva is portrayed in a fearsome manner indeed, or is he?

However something is amiss and the evidence doesn't add up. Is Shiva really the fearsome warrior? Is he truly destructive or could he be something more, something other than merely the simplistic embodiment of destruction?

It seems to me that Shiva isn't really the destructive principle however he is Hinduism's ideal man. Let us see how..

Here are a few points for you to consider

  • Shiva is the only one of the three to have an abode on planet earth namely Mt.Kailash. Vishnu and Brahma live somewhere in the cosmos, Vishnu in a sea of milk in Vaikuntha and Brahma in an heavenly palace

  • Shiva married a human being (the same person twice if you consider Sati) - Parvati. Parvati had a human birth, a human father and a human story. Where do Vishnu's and Brahma's consorts Lakshmi and Saraswati come from?

  • He is the only one amongst the Trimurti to go to war as himself in a major mythological story i.e. when he goes to war against Sati's father. Brahma of course never leaves his seat and Vishnu mainly appears on Earth as one of his Avatars

  • Off the top of Shiva's head comes the river Ganges which is a river on Earth and not in the cosmos. A liquid flowing out from the top of a man's head is usually the Kundalini Shakti that has reached the Sahasrara chakra symbolic of an enlightened man

  • Shiva is not famed to have four hands or heads

  • A coiled snake around Shiva's neck that isn't trying to choke is again symbolic of an ascetic who has mastered the Kundalini. It is his friend, protector and guiding light

  • Shiva's condition on marrying Parvati was "When I'm a householder will you be my wife and when I'm an ascetic will you be an ascetic with me?" This isn't a condition a God would ask is it?

  • Nandi, a cow is Shiva's vehicle. Cows are sacred in Hindu tradition and are usually domesticated by farmers, in Shiva's case it is by Shiva the householder

  • Shiva's younger child is Ganesha - a man with the head of an elephant. The elephant is the animal that governs the Muladhara chakra and symbolizes the first stage in the journey of enlightenment. Ganesha is also the first God who is evoked in any major ceremony. It is needless to say that before attaining the "ideal spiritual being" (Shiva) it is his son who has to be prayed to first

  • During Vishnu's Kurma avatar (or the churning of the ocean saga) Shiva is asked to take the deadly poison on behalf of all of creation without which all living beings would perish. As he does so mythology has it he was about to swallow it but it is Parvati who chokes his throat and until Shiva is able to stabilize the poison in his throat. Which other of the Trimuti has had a death wish like that?

  • Shiva is worshiped in the form of a linga i.e. a male phallus - another link to his human nature
Maybe from the above points I got you to look at Shiva in a slightly different light. If Shiva is the ideal man then it is Vishnu who is the true destroyer (I imagine he has caused far more deaths through his various avatars) or the one who brings balance if you would prefer and Brahma the creator. We are now left with a void as to who might contain the destructive principle and my intuition points in the direction of Goddess(s) Durga/Kali. Together they represent the all important feminine destroyer seen in every other religion which allows for female gods. Moreover it is written that Yugas (eras) are reset by a "great flood" and the ocean is almost always feminine.

Personal Notes
  1. I'm no expert, really. This is "just" food for thought. I'm not a Hindu fanatic, hater or revivalist of anything you can think of. This is merely a blog post.
  2. Full disclosure, most of my knowledge comes from Amar Chitra Katha. I'm not claiming to be an authority of any sort

Incipt

glory be to he who screams back at me
from birth, but who abandons at death
controller contorter sweet genesis of truth
untold lies he speaks through me

the gaping rift he cordons off
rich treasures he promises off
incipiT life for what else is there
that nature calls forth from us?

to succumb and to kneel he beckons
so the I is no longer more
everlaSting peace is in, on his
grandeur scheme forever more

no respite we have to wave
our choices to make A way
to be and not to be are his alone
the flaming pit, life's grandiose hole

in death he laughs for a life is wasted
or spent in the greater good of mankind
crumbs we get from the great beyond
eating, sleeping, doing, making

to save you? but you're already saved
give over body mind and soul!
and when they call your name do you obey
or is there a more wholesome way to stay?

my tiny sword now doesn't break
as his flaming sword crashes down on me
there I stAnd in his great hall
very much at his beck and call

when I turn my back I now know
that his flaming sword can pierce me No more
for if I die he dies with me
another wasted opportunity

friends we are in life till the very end
maybe for a time less than that, I know not
but today we stand together, hopefully
for I am no longer tempted by death

Bane

Oh, you think darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then, it was nothing to me but blinding!

Hut! Velociraptor



There is a stream beyond which lies the curious mountain range bordering the land of lava and our own land. It occurs to me that the mountain range is fresh and has come up recently though I feel confident (I must admit that I'll always have my doubts) that the raging lava flowing on the other side of the mountain range will never seep into this land but life has a strange way of unfolding herself. It always pleases me to notice that what was once a desert now is populated with grass, a stream and a few rodent like creatures here and there. Rumour has it that a forest has recently started to grow on the banks of a river (which I am yet to see with my own eyes) as well.

Someone seems to have constructed a rudimentary type of dock on the river indicative of some form of intelligent life, but I've only very rarely glimpsed the woman who lives there. I've also sensed the presence of a hermit who co-habits the same river and who apparently can control the flow of its water. It is also said that he doesn't speak and can magically conjure up a boat that always keeps afloat irrespective of the river's force. From afar, he has a balding head but on getting close his face seems to disintegrate into a blobular plasma.

Oddly, in that place where there is very little fauna there lives a lonely velociraptor. A carnivorous animal, my guess is that it feeds on any animal that might be unlucky to grow big enough to be spotted by it. I also wondered how a velociraptor which normally lives in a herd is populating our shared space all alone - maybe this one just wanted to be alone or is probably lost from its herd? Most velociraptors talk (as you may not know) and were considered to be amongst the most intelligent of the dinosaurs but this one strangely didn't seem to know how to speak at all.

I first encountered him (I don't know how I know that) while examining the puddle I had arrived at, disoriented since it was but newly formed in that past time. As I sat up I noticed the moon in the sky and it was clearly nighttime with the ever present misty fog everywhere. Curious about my presence he came sniffing around as I tried to get up, confused as I always am on entering our land. He didn't quite know what to do with me, probably the only other creature roughly his size. I guess now that since he couldn't rightly ascertain who or what I was- friend or foe, prey or the hunter, mother or father, male or female he too seemed as disoriented as I. The only deduction I could make was that he was somehow 'made' fully formed and was not born from an egg like other velociraptors.

Initially I was a bit apprehensive of his presence since dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct and our co-presence at the same time seemed to elucidate that something was amiss. But that thought soon dissolved as I remembered where I was and how I had gotten here. I then felt what might be akin to an archaic form of kinship with the being for I realized intuitively that he too was trapped in here with me and felt an urge to reach out to the creature but he suddenly jumped back as if he was horrified.

To my shock I realized that I had omnisciently merged with my velociraptor friend and was able to cognitively tune in to his inner state while retaining some amount of functioning of my own. I was able to experience his sense of confusion and unsatisfied hunger coupled with his drive to kill. He was at war in himself, whether to make friends with this new creature or to dare attack it so as to procure a new source of meat.

Realizing this I too took a step back  trying to put some distance between us for if he attacked I would at least be able to dodge it. What then ensued was a game of cat and mouse with the two of us circling each other like warriors in a ring even as I could sense the palpitations of his heart as his conflict with regard to who I was kept him from taking decisive action. Realizing that this was getting nowhere, I suddenly remembered that velociraptors could talk (as you might not know) and said a few words to him. It was only then that I understood that the poor beast was tongue tied for you see, it is only when when spoken to that a velociraptor can really learn how to speak! It then dawned on me that empathy was the only tool I had to determine what might be going on inside him.

To this day I don't know why I did what I did or how I did it but the next thing I was aware of was that he was standing over me, his powerful legs pinning my hands down as I stared up at what seemed to be imminent death. He looked at me, engulfed by his drive to kill and survive and for a moment I sensed guilt, compassion and pity in him as he bent down to tear open my chest and feed to his heart's content.

Even as green smoke spurred out from the place in my body where the ancients reckoned one's soul to be, there was a thunderous clap and I felt her cold hands embrace me with the words clearly said out loud -  "I'll never leave you again". The grin that he had when I etched out this story to him will forever remain in my memory.

Epliogue
I know that my friend the velociraptor is still alive. Some other good acquaintances of mine, on scouting our land, told me that he was spotted there with some other creatures his own size and seemed even to be talking to them. Where there was but short grass there are now a few bamboo shoots - a place where he can feel more at home. I was even able to meet the hermit of the river who taught me a severe lesson in bracing the watery elements. There is much to learn from this strange land indeed.

Valentine's Day


It was just an everyday and after a tiring day at work I settled down comfortably on the bed. The venue was different but the place was the same - as usual. Even before I took it upon myself to get there, the destination had already arrived. The world always slows down (and in rare cases speeds up) as I wade through the path to get to the place and today was no different. Intuitively though, I had foreseen a strange sense of easiness and calm for what may or may not be a fruitful exercise in love.

The usual cantankerous racket that always proceeded my entering the place was absent, however there pervaded in that space an ominous positivity. Since positivity and negativity are both perceived only by the depraved, I decided to get closer - and there they all stood - smiling.

In a world wrought with barrenness and despair it was uncanny to see them all united and happy. A bit flummoxed, I was a tad bit distraught at seeing the abnormal but very soon I was with them, one amongst them.

The place is usually dark - as it should be, but there emanated a strange warmth in the place that previously was used as an interrogation chamber. That elusive purple sunflower that I had been wrestling with my whole life decided to show itself and from the floor brought along with it a man sized light bulb, the warmth from which was shared and welcomed by everyone. There was truth everywhere.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun my brother decided to show up! He was late as usual with  fire emanating from him as he flew down, dressed sharply in his Westwood suit. Always critical, previously a king and being one of the first ones there, he has been very cooperative and accepting of the rest of them. He watched on with the suspicious curiosity so characteristic of him and I sensed from him the same sense of urgency that I too share, not wanting to hurt my feelings though he keeps it carefully hidden.

She was present as well, elusive and mysterious as always. I must confess that I noticed her late but she didn't seem to mind - she was probably used to it. What was strange however was that she didn't share in the light that the purple flower had brought but seemed as though she was rather expecting it. I'm more or less certain now that she won't survive in too many places but that space that we all shared was permissible to her. I remember seeing her in her natural residing place though, the place where she had warned me about flight. She seemed comfortable enough there but a bit annoyed at not being payed enough attention, most likely.

"Happy Valentine's Day"