Thank You, my readers: A poetic commune

It was great to participate in a flow of poems starting with a few words. An exercise that brought together people of the worlds within this larger earth (excluded aliens as of now, I guess). The power of creation in each one of us was indeed great! Thanks and kudos to the @cubby for the reowr!

Here you go, all readers of my novel and my blog – https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/9749951/posts/11776

Hope you loved this as a gift that would make to think, reflect and enjoy!

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Story 3: The Dead Poetry

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Medini wanted to be a poetess. Her father was her inspiration; people loved to read his written words. So Medini composed two poems and submitted them to a contest happening in the local club. One got selected for recitation in the upcoming local event. On the day of the event, Medini was on stage for the first time in her life. She stuttered a bit as she started, but gradually moved the audience with her words that left tears in their eyes till the very end. Medini was elated! There was even a special gift from an unknown fan in the audience delivered by the organisers – a pen in an exquisite wooden box!

As she grew up through the years. her diary of poems transformed into stories. The short and sweet rhymes slowly gave way to long paragraphs. Whenever Medini faced a question from anyone on “why not a poet?”, her answer was a quintessential, “who reads poems these days?” Newspapers carried her name as an established author brand. People invited her to book readings and author conferences.

In the meanwhile, the pen she got as gift in her childhood as a poetess was lost without being used even a single time. And a few months later, Medini’s father died.

Then one fine day, Medini found the pen’s box in the old house of her parents. The pen was nowhere to be found. As she opened the box, a small piece of paper fell from it. She took it up and opened it. It was written –

“If you remain a poetess, the pen is yours,

If not, I take it to my grave for sure,

For it was my gift to you, my loving Med,

To write poems of love, life and death.

– From your Dad”


#poetry #short story #story #life #fiction #father #love

Mindbites: Chicken, Bushman or Civilized

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What happens when any one of these happens? (Assuming the one who is given the gun knows its purpose and how to use it) –

a. A chicken is given a gun, and in front stand another chicken, a bushman and a quintessentially urban “civilized” human being

b. A bushman is given the gun, with above three standing in the front

c. An urban human is given the gun, with the three at its front

This is what I feel (feel free to comment) –

a. The chicken will kill the other chicken; its instinct at work that tells it to eliminate competition for resources.

b. The bushman will kill the other bushman (of course when he is not hungry, else the chicken would be his choice); its instinct again – even if its the chicken, it is driven by the instinct to satisfy hunger first (hence, if the bushman ends up killing the chicken, he would pray to the Gods with regards to its soul).

c. No one knows – it will depend on the relative strengths of “myths” that the human would have inculcated since childhood. First such myth would be the relative value of living beings – a chicken is less worthy than a bushman, and the latter less worthy than himself/ herself. Or the next myth is the notion of communal strength in establishing law and order – the bushman should sacrifice himself for the human for “betterment” of the human race. The third myth is that of patriotism for one’s nation – if the human with the gun is king A and the other one is king B who is a warring enemy of king A, imagine what happens 🙂


Reference read: The book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.

#sapiens #human #nature #instinct #myth #survival #hunger #life #death

Happy New Year to all my Readers!

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Thanks to all my readers, reviewers and supporters for appreciating my written words, both in my novel “Life Takes A You-Turn” and my blogs.

And A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO ALL!

May God bless and all the prosperity and happiness assimilate unto you.

What a year passed by! My protagonists Ankita and Sharmi got into their elements, and flew high through their dramas and adventures while you flipped through the pages of my novel (see at the bottom for the link). Come 2019, my protagonists are going off to unravel the mysteries of a long lost treasure somewhere in the Dooars – the Himalayan forests and streets in Bengal – while uncovering the identity of a murderer! (And that’s my upcoming sequel :-))

The fundamentalists may have got transformed by the tears of you while you read it (Story 2: The Fundamentalist), but it is now a season of joy and togetherness for both Anamika and Avantika as Ankita stands strong by them (Story 1: The Broken Goddess).

And if my blog on 5 Things To Beat Your Stress helped you, the next thing you can definitely do is to explore a bit of my understanding of our existence, purpose and practice (of Vedanta) in Universal Knowledge. Your Life. Part 1. (this blog continues on to four more). And if you still is a fervent Bengali who knows that we are living in an intelligent fool’s paradise, you may read and contribute to What ails Bengal today?.


#newyear #novel #lifetakesayouturn #wishes #blogging #indieauthor #author

 

Story 2: The Fundamentalist

Nafisa was a homemaker who stayed in Nawabganj with her husband and four year old son, Javed. She was what a good homemaker is generally perceived to be in this part of the world; obedient to her husband, soft spoken, religious and kind to all.

One fine day while she was out in the market with her son, she heard a commotion followed by shrieks. Some of the people around started running in panic. Nafisa caught hold of a woman and asked. “There seems to be a riot broken in the next locality – most of them being Hindus – who have now seeped into our area! Save yourself till our bhai’s come out,” she warned.

Nafisa left her market bag and ran with his son. A few yards later, there was more commotion. She saw a few Muslim men running in the opposite direction with daggers and sticks in their hands.

On the opposite side where she and her son were hiding, a little boy and a girl were hiding as well, with fearful eyes and tears rolling down from them. She carefully got out along with her son and crossed over the street. She whispered, “what happened, dear?”

“Mam, we are Hindus and our father used to sell vegetables from this stall. Upon hearing the commotion, he left in haste; forgetting to take us along with him,” the daughter replied.

A few minutes later, they saw men killing each other at a distance. Nafisa covered the faces of the children’s eyes by hugging them tightly over her bosom. The fight subsided, leaving behind a trail of blood. A few Muslims who survived fled the area. The Hindu “fundamentalists” went around, and one of them spotted the poor lady. He went over and pulled her out by her hair leaving aside the children.

As she was brought near the rest of the bloodthirsty group with her hairs in hand of her capturer, a big tall man in the group came forward with a dagger in his hand. Nafisa said, “Sahab, you can kill me but before you do that please take away the kids hiding there, somewhere else.”

The man turned towards Nafisa’s capturer. “Why didn’t you bring them as well; they are Muslims too,” he roared. Two other men ran to get them. When they were brought to the tall man, the dagger fell off from his hand. Two of the children were his own; Hindus!

He fell at Nafisa’s feet to ask for her forgiveness while the others looked on. “Mother, you saved my children. I am a wretched vegetable seller, and I was the one who wanted to murder you? Who am I? Did I get my fundamentals right?”

Story 1 (Contd.): The Broken Goddess

Continued from: Story 1: The Broken Goddess

The phone rang as soon as Ankita sat for dinner. “Didi, I want to talk to you,” Anamika was sobbing over the phone. “What happened?” Ankita asked. “No, I want to talk to you in person,” Anamika said. “Hmm, let us meet tomorrow morning at ten, then?” Ankita asked after a brief pause. “No… now didi,” Anamika sounded aghast.

Ankita rushed out in the middle of the night. Nivedita, her mother – being quite accustomed to Ankita’s ways – closed the door behind and went to sleep.

“Didi, please save my sister,” Anamika sounded so worried. Before Ankita could say a word, she grabbed her hand and both ran as fast as they could. “You have a sister?” Ankita asked in want of breath as she ran.

In about ten minutes, they reached a dark shelter near the Hoogly river that flowed behind Kumartuli. They peeped in through a window. A woman, looking exactly like Anamika, was tied to a chair. Five men stood at her front, with their backs facing the window.

Without a second thought, Ankita entered the shelter. Being an eighth degree black belt and veteran in street fights through her career as a lawyer-turned-detective, it was easy for her to quickly debilitate the five opponents. As three more men rushed into the shelter with sticks, she turned around fast in a flying jump and hit them hard.

Those three men were Gurudas, Raghu and Nirmal!

Ankita was taken aback for a moment. She regained her composure and quickly tied up the eight men with a long rope that was heaped up in one of the corners while the men writhed in utter pain. In the meanwhile, Anamika freed up the lady in the chair.

An hour later after the police was called and the eight men were taken into custody, Ankita sat with Anamika and the other lady in Gurudas’ workshop. Anamika’s mother tightly hugged the lady – still unknown to Ankita – and sobbed profusely.

“Didi, it was long back – around twenty years or so – when I and my twin sister Avantika were born. We were staying in a decrepit village a hundred kilometers away from Kolkata. We were very poor. My father blamed my mother for having given birth to daughters instead of a son. So he gave her a choice to keep only one of us. With a heavy heart, she chose me and let go off Avantika. My father sold her away. I came to know this three months back when I, by chance, met my sister in Sonagachi – the nearby brothel area, a few steps away from here. Years of exploitation has taken away all her wants in life. We hatched a plan. First, she destroyed the large idols to take away the sole source of earnings for the three artisans including my father. Raghu and Nirmal were the brokers who bought my sister years back and got her into this wretched life. We later planned to kill both, but before that could happen, they caught her. Rest, you know.”

“Hmm, so not a word to anybody. I will keep this to myself. As for Avantika, will arrange for rehabilitation formalities first, make things legal and then you can all stay together. That would keep the Sonagachi goons at bay from her,” Ankita broke her silence with a long speech.

Then she smiled and left.

The above is a two-episode story (this being the second and last episode). Ankita and Sharmi are protagonists of my novel, Life Takes A You-Turn, inspired by true stories. To know more about them; how they became friends, and how one pulled the other from a quagmire of adventure, drama and a grave family crisis, buy the novel @Amazon (available worldwide):

Story 1: The Broken Goddess

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A few days before Durga Puja. Kolkata had already started giving the final touches preparing for the festivities, with a whiff of fresh autumn breeze that started after the drizzles a fortnight back.

Ankita was at Kumartuli, the hub of idol makers in the heart of Kolkata. It was around six in the evening. She waited for Gurudas as he filled up the intricate details of the Goddess’ idol sitting on his knees, as she kept looking at her watch at intervals. In about half an hour, Gurudas got up.

“Uncle, can you tell me what happened?” Ankita asked. Gurudas became close to Ankita’s family since Avinash, Ankita’s father, started Durga Puja since two years in the NGO he ran. “Last night, my large Durga idol was smashed to pieces; this was the only big order I got this time. Found that out in the morning. Now, how do I explain this to my customer at the very last moment?” Gurudas said with an utterly downtrodden face. “Do you think it’s rivalry with another idol maker?” Ankita asked. Gurudas paused for a moment. “No… don’t think so,” he replied.

Anamika walked in. She was Gurudas’ daughter; as beautiful as the Goddess herself. “How are you, didi?” she asked. Ankita smiled. She noticed Anamika to be quite worried. “I understand… your father is facing a tough situation,” Ankita sort of consoled her, while placing her right hand over her shoulder. A few tears rolled down from Anamika’s beautiful eyes as she tried to hide her face turning towards a dimly lit corner of the workshop.

Noting down the details of the customer who ordered the idol, Ankita left.

The phone ring made Ankita wake up startled. “Hello?” she asked in a broken voice, looking at the clock. It was six in the morning. “Hi Ankita ‘ma, uncle here. Two such cases again happened yesterday night; thought, I should inform you as soon as I came to know of them,” replied Gurudas. “Raghu and Nirmal – both my friends for years – saw in the morning that their large idols, and a few smaller ones, were badly smashed.”

Ankita was again in Kumartuli in an hour’s time. She examined the broken idols intently. “Don’t know why, but the idols are brutally smashed. Whoever it was seems to have a special grudge against the Goddess herself,” she murmured to herself. Searching around, she found a broken piece of stick with a short steel chain fixed at one end. “That was what the perpetrator left back when I chased him last night,” Nirmal said. Ankita picked it up and had a good look. “Have you seen this before? This is not what you usually find in shops; any idea, uncle?” she asked Gurudas. There was no answer though.

“Did you see him?: Ankita asked turning towards Nirmal. “No madam, it was too dark when he fled. We typically keep a candle glowing in the night in our workshop, which is again quite dim,” replied Nirmal.

It was a late lunch back home. “When are you coming down to Kolkata?” Ankita asked over the phone. She longed to meet her closest friend, Sharmi, who was in Bangalore. “Rather, why don’t you come here? You know Bangalore so well,” Sharmi asked in turn. Ankita did not have an answer. The rest of their chat was on movies and long gone memories.


The above is a two-episode story (this being the first episode). Ankita and Sharmi are protagonists of my novel, Life Takes A You-Turn, inspired by true stories. To know more about them; how they became friends, and how one pulled the other from a quagmire of adventure, drama and a grave family crisis, buy the novel @Amazon (available worldwide):

Universal Knowledge. Your Life. Part 5.

sunset-yogaYou may refer to my earlier blog in this series here: Universal Knowledge. Your Life. Part 4.

To start on the practice, you first need to sit in the correct posture as outlined under the stage “Aasan” in the earlier blog.

Stage 4: Pranayam

First, close your eyes and wait for a few seconds. What do you see, or feel? You see darkness (obviously) and all present thoughts – enjoying with your wife and kids, a tussle with your office boss, or riding a bike to Honolulu – come and go in your mind. Even pin drops may sound like pounding stones (note that you need to have a place with no or minimum aural distractions).

Now let us dissect how your body is at work at this moment. Whatever you see, feel or hear are through your senses – eyes, ears, and so on. They receive the environmental signals and pass them on to your brain. Now it is the brain that is the actual sense organ (eyes or ears are mere recipients who pass the signals on through nerves). What the brain perceives gets processed and reflected to either your “heart” (the subjective impulsive emotional entity within you), your “mind” (the rational logical entity within you) or to none at all (we will call this “soul”). Who gets this reflection depends on degree of your meditative capability – When you start meditating, all are active and hence, the reflection happens to the heart which makes you respond (say, a mosquito bite on your shoulder, while you are sitting your eyes closed, will make you try hitting it). A little later trying hard to concentrate, the reflection possibly stops at your mind who tells you not to hit the mosquito (so now you sit still, though with a little pain on the shoulder).

The objective is to stop any reflection to even the mind so that you do not feel anything from outside at all (all such perceptions stop at the brain; or the entity called “soul”). This is the objective of this stage.

How to achieve this? So next, feel each part of your body one by one – starting with toes, then lower limbs, and so on – and think that one by one these parts cease to exist (it is difficult, hence would need practice). Once the first round is done, think and consciously “throw away” the thoughts that come and go into the darkness; sort of discarding them. This is also difficult and thoughts may still keep coming and going off for awhile.

Once you are relatively calm without too many distracting thoughts cropping up, now is to time to practice breath control. This is done in three steps –

Note – Whatever I have mentioned to “imagine” in bold underlined, is important. All breaths need to be taken (or released) slowly. Further, the central line (through spinal cord) till brain is your seat of all consciousness, thoughts and life force (represented by a white snake); imagine a coiled up white snake happily sleeping at the bottom tip of your lower back. The objective is to imagine waking up the snake and pulling it up gradually along the central line till the brain.

a. Inhale deep so as to fill up your entire lungs and stomach (they will inflate). Imagine that as you inhale, the air presses against the snake trying to wake it up. Once inhale is full, immediately start exhaling. Imagine that the snake is trying to rise up along the line gasping for breath. Once exhale is done, stop your breath as long as you can (you may feel dizzy or in want of breath). Repeat this quite a few times till you fully concentrate on the snake.

b. Now, use one of your hands to alternately breath through left and right sides of your nose. To illustrate, I would assume that you are using the left hand. Press against the left side of your nose with your thumb and inhale through the right side. Imagine that the snake is pressed against as before. Once inhale is full, stop as long as you can (this is opposite of what you did in above step) by pressing your little finger on the right side of your nose. When you are ready to exhale, remove your thumb and this time, exhale through left side. Imagine slowly pushing up the snake on the central line. Once exhale is fully done, immediately start inhaling through the left side. Repeat this alternately for not more than four time each side.

c. Bring up your palms to your lap, one on top of the other, in a relaxed position. Keep repeating the breathing as in step ‘a’ (inhale -> exhale -> stop -> inhale -> …..)

Stage 5: Pratyahar

The last step above (c) is the state that gradually, as you practice, will transform into true meditation. During the stops (between exhale and next inhale), you will gradually start feeling a vacuum – it is during this time that you gradually learn to connect with your super-conscious state, your Praann or the soul; gradually the external perceptions will go away and the feeling would be transcendental. This will give way to a feeling that you do not possess a body (hence, will not even feel that mosquito bite).

Higher stages

The aforesaid practice gradually takes shape into the higher stages which are mental states rather than physical practices. I will not describe them here as of now. However as a pointer, note that the final stage makes you realize that you are one with the entire universe – all animals, plants, inanimate objects and you are all one, and there is no difference.

Let me know your experiences as you read this blog and probably practice it. This needs to be personally experienced to be believed. Feel free to drop me a question, or in case you need further guidance.

5 Things To Beat Your Stress

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You would have read innumerable blogs on this topic, and would still be wondering if it is possible to beat stress?! Well, there’s no harm in reading one more 🙂

While you go ahead reading further, note that it is not possible to beat stress from day one, however it would need practice; and hence, have patience. Moreover, it is not practically possible to beat stress in its entirety, given the lives that we typically live today. Even reading this blog itself induces a bit of stress, isn’t it? So, lets’ start:

  1. Breathe through your nose only – ok, as much as possible; except for example, when you sleep, eat or talk. I will not try to explain the science behind it, but note that at least it helps in proper blood circulation in your body, hence cleansing away your body wastes efficiently, thereby revitalizing your hormones (hence, your mood) and health. (It is actually a lot more than that). And yes, slow down your breath as much as you can – both inhaling and exhaling – except when you are driving a formula one car or riding a horse.
  2. Reduce expectations on others. As you want to do all the “good” things in life, you may gradually start building a lot of expectations over your family, friends and at your work place. Note – stress begets stress. So, the less you build those expectations, the less you let others build expectations on yourself, and hence reduce your stress. It is ok if your husband forgot to buy that gift for you. It is ok if your girl friend forgot to call you on your birthday. It is even ok if your colleague forgot to send that critical report before your big client presentation. If you still have a problem with that, do it yourself. Imagine this – does any of the above make any sense when you are lying on your dying bed?
  3. Do not fret over anything that is material, and is non-living. For example, do not worry much about that dent in your car, or when that expensive vase fell on the floor and broke, or for that matter, you lost your hard earned money with which you bought a house from a fraudster (ok, I faced that!). Again, it is easier said than done, but can do wonders if you practice.
  4. Do at least one basic thing daily that apparently has no “big” value to you. Wash a few of your clothes (no washing machine, but using detergent by hand), sweep the floor (or vacuum the carpet), wash the dishes (no dish washer!), make coffee for your wife, or water the plants in the morning. This applies even if you are the president of your country. And while you do it, totally enjoy doing it, thinking of nothing else!
  5. Lastly, practice the above points (point 1 and 4 are the bare minimum) to beat stress regularly, every day.

As for me? I practice this every day, at least since the last few years. And results are awesome! I am not a go-getter or a hotshot, but I know that at the end of the day, I love not being stressed out (at least for most of the days!). One more thing – all the points above can be proven scientifically to reduce stress, so they absolutely work.

Universal Knowledge. Your Life. Part 4.

sunset-yogaYou may refer to my earlier blog in this series here: Universal Knowledge. Your Life. Part 3.

So lets’ take the plunge in trying to realize P. It would be, by no means, an easy journey – or even the journey where anyone can guarantee that you would eventually realize P; nevertheless, the rest of the benefits I mentioned in my earlier blogs do apply 🙂 Further however, note that since P is all about consciousness, your thoughts, belief, zeal, discipline and strictly adhering to this text into practice would go a long way in realizing certain stages towards realization of this important knowledge itself.

Now, this P has different names in different regions of the world, so I would expand it to the name as established since ancient times in my country – India – and this name is ‘Praann‘ (this is the nearest English equivalent to the way it is pronounced). Please note here that the name itself has nothing to do with the religion Hinduism and hence it is religion-agnostic, though references of it may be found in such religious texts.
Why I revealed this name now is because the practice to realize Praann is named as ‘Pranayam‘. The root of these words lies in the ancient language of ‘Sanskrit’, which I will not cover here though. The word Pranayam is composed of two words – Praann (consciousness) and Ayaam ([to realize by] self) – and hence, the practice.
Note – Praann does not mean ‘life’ as it typically is construed certain Indian languages, but is a broader concept of consciousness itself. Further, I would mention below certain terms that come from Sanskrit, and these are not to be construed as any religion-specific totems, practices or tricks.

The practice of Pranayam
The practice has eight stages as follows, whereby the first four needs to be practiced simultaneously in a physical manner. The rest four are more of realization states or stages, achieved mentally, which the fourth one leads to. Even though it may at first seem that you can directly jump on to stage four, it will not help in reaching any of the states we aspire to.

1. Yam – the daily general practice of being good to others; helping people at times of need; giving proper time to your family, work, and yourself; and not playing bad politics. Why is this important? Because, this will help you to be more stable and empathetic mentally. From a practice standpoint, you need to simply be good as you perceive “goodness” to be.
2. Niyam – the daily general practice of having a bath, taking limited quantity of food while you eat (and not gulping or gorging), having mild exercises for general fitness and getting a sound sleep every night. Why is this important? Because, of the reason that since pranayam is all to do with your mind, your mind needs to be calm and stable. From a practice standpoint, a good time to do pranayam would be early morning (4:00am is ideal; however, even 6:00am would work if you can find a calm place without noise and distractions). For such time, a basic minimum of brushing your teeth and washing your face with water would be the prerequisite.
3. Aasan – since the practice of pranayam would at first seem to be both physically and mentally taxing, it would need you to sit in a proper posture to reduce any bodily strain while you practice it. Aasan refers to such posture. From a practice standpoint, you sit with your head and back straight – comfortable and not stretched – legs folded, hands stretched with the back side of your palms kept on your knees; palms being open. Alternatively, follow the sitting position of Lord Buddha (as you find in pictures and idols).
4. Pranayam – this name is same as the overall practice as this is the most important step through which you connect to your inner world (what this means will become apparent as you practice). I will expand on the actual practice in my next blog, as it also incorporates not only physical actions but also what you should think while practicing it.
5. Pratyahar – it is a state in which you do not feel your body’s existence, however have a feeling of ecstasy which is purely a personal experience. It is a stage you can practically achieve.
6. Dharana – it is a state achieved when you mentally pick up any object and try to give a form, shape and behavior to it. This requires a lot of concentration, and would able to visualize the object as if it is a part of you (or the other way round).
7. Dhyan – it is a state achieved when you concentrate on this object and seem to control its form and behavior mentally; this and the previous step get more refined with practice as you start realizing multiple objects and in turn, multiple spheres of knowledge.
8. Samadhi – it is a state achieved – and the last one where you achieve higher consciousness – with no bounds to the degree of knowledge that you gain through continued practice; true yogis are said to attain it. All the branches of knowledge – mathematics, pure sciences, religion, vedic, the knowledge of past and future, occult sciences – are realized and attained. Unbelievable, but as I said earlier – do not say it’s nonsense unless you yourself have practiced it.

Now, before I go on to explain the above, an acknowledgement is deserved at this point. Whatever I am writing here through these blogs form a part of the larger texts on lectures by Swami Vivekananda on the concept of Vedanta. He had been a practitioner of this, and has successfully demonstrated the knowledge not only in India, but also across the world.
However, there is a propensity for any person following the religion of Hinduism to claim this as a ‘Hindu practice’, which is gravely erroneous. Vedanta is a philosophy (leading to a set of practices, including pranayam) irrespective of any religious group, and defines the universal human/non-human identity. And to know it, you do not have to become a member of any religious cult or group. It is more science that religion as the word “religion” is construed today.

I will expand the steps in my next blog, so you may watch out for the actual practice lessons subsequently! More blogs will follow to talk about the ‘science’ behind Vedanta, and why the philosophy is important to your work and life.