Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A history of sorts ? (via

Just wanted to highlight the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. Krishan Bheel is a really bold man. Just think of it - a Hindu MP slapping a Muslim MP - an influential one and a Maulvi to boot - and that too in Pakistan !

You can read more here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Bhagavad Gita and the example of the hedgehog

I was browsing Jim Collins's site - a great site for management enthusiasts and generally for people who want to get some good insights into management - when I came across this story of the fox and the hedgehog.

You can find that story here

While reading the story, the following shloka of the gItA echoed in my mind almost in a flash.

Lord Krishna says in the gItA:
vyavasAyAtmikA buddhirekeha kurunandana |
bahushAkhAhyanantAshcha buddhayo.avyavasAyinAm ||

A rough translation - the buddhi of the industrious is one pointed. But the intellects of the unindustrious are many branched.

It may be also interpreted as - the intellect (buddhi roughly translated) that is single-pointed yields to industriousness. But if the intellect is numerously branched, it leads to one becoming an "avyavasAyi" or an unindustrious one.

Reading the shoka, I recognize myself to be an "avyavasAyi" as my intellect is spread across too many things to be able to do something meaningful in a single area.

Going back to Jim Collins's example/parable, it looks like I am a fox. I may be smart, but definitely ineffective when compared with hedgehog-like people.

The fox-hedgehog/one-pointed-many-directional intellect idea seems to be applicable on multiple levels.

We can see that single-mindedness yields success as a student, happiness in the family and a prosperous career.

Single-mindedness yields benefits even on the spiritual plane. A seeker sticking to one particular path that suits him most succeeds whereas a dabbler in different traditions will gain more intellectual knowledge, but will fall short of that ultimate goal of True Understanding.

Upon reflection, we see that what is said here is commonsense. If we lavish our attention on multiple goals, some of which may be mutually contradictory, we become too weak to concentrate on anything substantial and failure becomes inevitable. However, if we concentrate on a few essential things, the chance of succeeding becomes that much higher.

A simple truth, but really difficult to implement. It is so for me at least. I should try and minimize my areas of action so that I can be successful in a few. But numerous interests drag me hither and thither so that I just accomplish something minimal. This minimization becomes possible by mindful prioritizing. But we have to keep prioritizing things ceaselessly to succeed. It is pretty difficult to do that and needs a lot of mental energy. But in perseverance is the secret (and the difficulty). Doing it one week may be easy, but doing it on every day of one's life is pretty challenging. One has to be really strong-willed to succeed.

As Krishna, again so pithily, states :
abhyAsena tu kaunteya vairAgyena cha gR^ihyate |

By practice and dispassion, the mind can be controlled.

Again, simple to intellectually understand - but the implications of this statement are profound. And internalizing it is not exactly simple.

The gItA is indeed a valuable medicine chest - we go to it when we are unwell and upon following the Lord's prescription, we become well again.

Sometimes, though, we need the sugar coating of a story and some lively language to ingest a bitter pill (as in Jim Collins's article). But we see that the gItA within the mahAbhArata has already done it for us. This is not to belittle Jim Collins's wonderful insights, but only to recognize an alternate and older (read time-tested) encyclopedic source. I mentioned the mahAbhArata because, to understand the gItA, one must have a fairly good idea on the events that had transpired before the delivery of the teaching. I feel that aspiring and practising managers will benefit immensely by a serious study of the mahAbhArata (with or without the gItA in it).

Coincidentally, now is mArgashIrSha, the month in which gItA-jayantI (the anniversary of the descent of the gItA) falls - on the 11th day of the bright fortnight.

Reflecting on the teachings of the gItA will do well for us both in this life and beyond.

|| iti sham ||

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Play called off on day one in the Chennai test and other thoughts

I knew something like this would happen. Isn't it quite well known that Chennai experiences this kind of weather at this time of the year? If it is already known so well, why would anybody in his right mind schedule a match there?

India and SA could not play the one dayer because of rain and now the first day's play of the test has been called off. Please, please - don't schedule a match in Chennai in the months of November and December.

This brings me to another point. Is weather such an important part of cricket. Cricket - as the cliche goes - is a game of glorious uncertainties. We've all known the Fremantle doctor wreak havoc on unfortunate batsmen in Perth. The dew in the day night games in India is all too well known. If, however, the match has to be an equal contest without being some kind of a lottery, the same conditions have to be given to both teams.

Just think about what happens normally. A team fielding first will have it easy when the wicket is still green and the ball is easy to catch. But the team that fields next will have it bad, especially in a day-night game - when it has to cope with the dew and the ball getting slippery and all. Sometimes, I think this is unfair. Winning the toss and deciding to bat or field is OK - some one has to do it first. But you just can't have the team that wins the toss win the game - assuming that they've read the wicket properly.

Isn't basketball better? No weather gods intervening. Of course there is psychological pressure - but that's it! The fight is between the teams and their abilities only.

Many puritans of the game love this uncertainty which comes in because of the weather, the wicket and idiosyncratic umpires, in addition to the pressure that is experienced by the players. But in these days of instant food and one dayers in colored clothing, do we need such things that bring us more uncertainty?

I, personally, am on the fence on this. As long as it is enjoyable, anything is fine. But sometimes, scheduling the matches at a place and time perfect for rain is unforgivable. Talk to South Africa who had a great chance in the 1992 world cup and lost it in the Semi finals because of the rain and two guys known as Duckworth and Lewis.

The Telstra dome in Australia seemed to be a good idea. Cricket administrators and insurance companies all over the world would salivate over that kind of a cricket venue. You don't have rain interfering and won't have dew. Teams fight it out with all other things being equal. It should be an ideal kind of place to play cricket. But, then, I there is something that is seen lacking in such synthetic environments.

An article written on cricinfo a while ago was on similar lines. Both the players and spectators won't get to see the sky. There wouldn't be any birds (especially the seagulls we see in Australia), and of course, there wouldn't be people sun bathing.

As I said earlier, anything in the game is fine as long as it is enjoyable ! But what is enjoyable? That is a tricky question and I don't have the time to answer it!