Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Aug 3, 2015

35th Edition of Shadow Dancing With Mind

It feels great that Shadow Dancing With Mind has been awarded the “Top Spiritual Blog of India” and with Half Million hits I am so happy that all my friends have enjoyed what I have shared through the blog posts and specially 34 previous editions. So here you are with the 35th Edition, which has a new section Chennai Colors, showcasing amazing talent we have here. But the most interesting stuff this time is the History Of Philosophy  and my thought about…

As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, caricatures of Charles Darwin with an ape or monkey body symbolized evolution. For quite sometime, I have been thinking about the Darwinism - The theory of Evolution, as it has put some serious question mark to the idea of GOD, and this post is the result. (Read More...)

HAIKU MASTERS SERIES: On Classical Haiku Masters

A series on discussing Haiku Masters and their poetry…. This discusses the very popular and prolific Haiku Masters who aimed to move away from the serious 'Bookishness' popular in Japanese poetry in the 17th century. Sōin founded the Danrin school of Haikai poetry, whereas Saikaku created the 'Floating World' genre... (Read More...)

CHENNAI COLORS: Some interesting, creative and amazing people of Chennai… 
Creating music with only Drum Sticks...

During the course of our interaction, Music Director Paul Jacob invited me to a Drum fight at the Alliance Françoise, which he was coordinating. They call themselves Drum Fighters and could use anything like beer bottles, tennis ball etc. to create great music. (Read More…)

My friend Praveen is one such enthusiast, who got me to know there is much more to wine than drinking. (Read More…)

Noted Dance Director, Choreographer and leading Bharatnatyam exponent Smt. Anitha Guha. (ReadMore…)

READER: A Section where I share most important thoughts from the books that I read
What is the sound of one hand (clapping)?
It is probably one of the most famous Koan of Zen thoughts, written by Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1768). If you think about it, it might take you a lifetime to know but if you let it seep into you, while you go about your day-to-day activity, with unattached mindfulness, it might give you a sudden clap of enlightenment, what is known as 'Satori' in Zen school of thoughts. (Read More…)

I have been reading various books on Philosophy, trying to get the big picture out of the multitudes of volumes I have had come across. After decades of trying to catch up with Philosophy, now I feel that I have a little idea of what is the history, back ground, ideas of Philosophy and its progress through the history of mankind, but "The Philosophy Book" is one of the best one to ‘Explain The Big Idea Simply

Hope you have enjoyed this edition, look forward to your comments. Please do share...
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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34th Edition                          

Jul 28, 2015

CHENNAI COLORS III : Anitha Guha – AIM for Seva through Bharathnatyam

The circumstances that lead me to meet one of the most popular non performing teacher, a leading exponent of Bharatnatyam, reminded me of a famous dialogue of Bollywood super star, Shah Rukh Khan, “Some times the whole cosmos conspires to make your wish comes true.” As I started writing about the amazing people of Chennai, through the section of my blog “Chennai Colors”, I was always on the look out for such personalities. Last week, as I was attending a meeting of upcoming Authors, I got into a discussion about it with Ms. MeeraRajagopalan, who works with NGO “AIM for Seva”, (A organisation which focuses on providing houses for the school going children from the weaker section of the society). She informed me about the noted Dance Director, Choreographer and leading Bharathnatyam exponent Smt. Anitha Guha, who they have engaged to create “A Signet of Hope” – An epic dance Drama based on Sundara Kaandam from Ramayana, for their Annual Fund raiser program to be performed on 1st August, 7 PM at Music Academy, Chennai.

Since I had plans to travel, Meera graciously set up my meeting with Anitha Guha Ma’am, during the course of rehearsals. And it was a learning experience about passion, simplicity and service for a cause. After my interaction with such a humble and creative person, I realised two very interesting aspects of living…

A) Simplicity always leaves an impression, lasting a lifetime.
B) Well, you see, that’s how cosmic design works.

But before I start talking about my interaction with Anitha Ma’am at her Bharathanjali studio in T-Nagar, let me try to entice you into attending the AIM for Seva Program, through a brief introduction of…

A beautiful blend of emotions: romance, valor, despair, compassion, amazement, laughter and horror through a vibrant journey of rasa and bhava. The exquisite dance ballet, which represents parts of the Kishkinda Kandam and the Sundara Kandam, will take the viewer through a roller coaster of emotions through the unparalleled choreography of Smt. Anitha Guha and the music of Shri Neyveli Santhanagopalan.

The vibrant choreography of Smt. Anitha Guha, the lively narration of Smt. RevathyShankaran, the captivating music by Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan, rhythmic interlude by Sri P.R.Venkatasubramanian and brilliant performances by the team of acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancers is sure to take the audience back to the Treta Yuga.

The team set to tour 20 cities across USA in coming months, after the event, so don't miss the chance to see it first. If interested, you can book your ticket by clicking here…
Acharya Choodamani Smt. Anitha Guha, one of the most popular Bharathanatyam teachers of Chennai is a disciple of Guru. Govindarajan Pillai of Bangalore. She played title roles like Radha, Valli, Mohini, Basmasura, Shiva, Urvasi with such finesse that the audiences marveled at her portrayal. Her adept portrayal of Urvasi won her the Minister’s Award in 1985.

In 1986, she moved to Chennai and founded Bharathanjali in 1989. Since then, she has been imparting to her students with love and dedication whatever has been bestowed upon her by the almighty. Many of her students have blossomed into solo performers and have been performing in India and abroad, winning awards, titles and scholarships. She also has many students from abroad who come to perfect their Natyam.

To read more about her work and her numerous achievements, please click here…

And My Impressions…
As I entered her studio Bharathanjali, where she was busy with rehearsals for her upcoming Dance Drama, the first few things I noticed about place were the numerous images of God and Goddess in different forms and colors, many photographs of her disciples in various mudras and if you look closely enough you will also find a black and white photo of her first public appearance at the age of 11. As she informed me during our discussion, not only she performed but also created, designed and choreographed the solo act on her own. When I asked her, how did she manage to do all that alone, she smiled and told me, “I am blessed, I think with an inner urge and creativity to perform stories from Indian culture and heritage as an offering to Gods”.

As she went on to talk about her life, which moved on from the twin city of Hyderabad and Sikandarabad to Chennai, I realised that her passion for Bharatnatyam Dance Form, Choreography and above all the passion for teaching was another form of cosmic design which manifested her studio Bharathanjali in 1989 – a foremost cultural center of Bharatnatyam which flowered many talents to leave their own mark in the field of classical dances . She recalled that ‘teaching’ reached out to her on its own. Just after her marriage, she was approached by many parents from the apartment she was staying at the time, to creatively engage them by train their children in our rich cultural heritage, dance and drama. And today, she says, I get an immense pleasure to see the impact it had on children. 

She introduced me to her long-term senior disciples, Medha Hari and Sathvikaa Shankar who have been learning Bharatnatyam from her since decades. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they will be performing respectively as Tara and Hanuman in the upcoming dance drama “Signet Of Hope” in front of huge audience, which will also tour across 20 cities in the USA.

As it is customary, I had to ask about movies and why she is not interested in getting involved with the medium. Though she had been approached for certain projects, she feels that it’s her personal form of prayers, through the Nritya Natakam directly to the audience, which she would not like to dilute. And I could not agree with her more. She adds further that working with children gives her a pleasure that will never come from anything else. In fact, at her show in Cleveland USA, she wanted to train the local children for the performance on stage but there was not much time, hence she had to manage with her small troupe and some adult performers locally.

During my long interaction, I realize that she has passion about every aspect of the production. In between, she took little breaks from the discussion, to supervise the artists, trying head dresses and wigs on her students like Sathvikaa, focusing on the minute details that will make the performance better. So if you see the Hanuman, dressed on the stage with hair falling across the shoulders, remember, it was decided in front of me.

A little later, the artist from Bangalore, Mithun Shyam, who is performing as Rama, walked in, dressed in Dhoti and T-shirt, which made me wonder, “Did he actually walked the crowded streets of T-Nagar, dressed like that!” But the confidence that he showed in our interaction, removed any doubts and we settled down to a fine performance rehearsal, which included the Vaali, performed by the artist Thiruchelwam.

It’s not the dress, the lighting and sound that makes up for a great performance, but the soul, that comes alive with every bhava, feeling and connection with the story, which reflects in every move, thump of the feet on the ground and the tiny little movements on the face. The eye that darts to the corner, the trembling fingers that brings alive the honey bee on the lotus flower, the slowing down of the movement that brings out the pain of Rama’s loss of Sita – every bit choreographed to perfection. I was treated with an amazing performance, depicting the two aspect of Shiva as well, where Sathvika and Medha joined together to make one Shiva, with his male and female aspects as Ardhanareeshwar form. Well that’s Anitha Guha Ma’am for you – a fine artist, great teacher and above all, she is a saadhika, whose aim in life to serve as a teacher and offering prayers in dance drama from mythology and Indian Heritage.

Come to think of it, a perfect choice for the NGO – AIM for Seva, for their annual Fund Raiser. So if you are around, do join in to watch the exquisite dance Drama, which I am bound to miss, but as Anitha Ma’am told me that she will make arrangements for me to watch. I am looking forward to it.
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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The Drum Fighters                            

Jul 15, 2015

READER: The Philosophy Book PART IV

THE MORDERN WORLD – 1900 -1950
Towards the end of the 19th century, philosophy once again reached a turning point. Science and particularly Charles Darwin's theory of evolution (1859), had thrown into doubt the idea of the universe as God's creation, with humankind as the peak of his creative genius. Moral and political philosophy had become entirely human-centerer, with Karl Marx declaring religion "the opiate of the people". Following in the footsteps of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche believed that western Philosophy, withers roots in Greek and Judaeo-Christian traditions, was ill-equipped to explain modern world view.

This is the third part of the post on the Philosophy - History and its ideas and perspectives. To read the other parts, click below...

Man Is Something To Be Surpassed – Friedrich Nietzsche c1844 -1900
Nietzsche targets three linked ideas in particular: First, the idea we have of ‘man’ or human nature; second,
Friedrich Nietzsche
Image by Edvard Munch curtsy Wikipedia
the idea we have of God; and third, the ideas we have about morality, or ethics.

In’ How the “Real World” at last Became Myth’, Nietzsche goes on to explain this as follows: With the real world, we have also abolished the apparent world’. Nietzsche now sees the beginning of the end of philosophy’s ‘longest error’: its infatuation with the distinction between ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’, and the idea of two worlds. The end of this error, Nietzsche writes, is the zenith of mankind – the high point of all humanity.

And when we see through these philosophical illusions, the old idea of ‘man’ can be surpassed. The ‘Superman’ is Nietzsche’s vision of a fundamentally life-affirming way of being. It is one that can become the bearer of meaning not in the world beyond, but here; Superman is ‘the meaning of the Earth’.

At one point in ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ he makes it clear that he considers nationalism is a form of alienation or failure. ‘Only where the state ends, Zarathustra says, ‘there begins the human being who is not superfluous.

1930s: Nietzsche’s work is used to help construct the mythology of Nazism

Intuition Goes In The Very Direction Of Life – Henri Bergson c.1859 – 1941
Bergson says there are two different kinds of knowledge: relative knowledge, which involves knowing something from our own unique particular perspective; and absolute knowledge, which is knowing things as they actually are. Bergson believes that these are reached by different methods, the first through analysis or intellect, and the second through intuition. Kant’s mistake, Bergson believes, is that he does not recognize the full importance of our faculty of intuition, which allows us to grasp an object’s uniqueness through direct connection. Our intuition is linked to what, Bergson called our élan vital, a life –force (Vitalism) that interprets the flux of experience in terms of time rather than space.
1927: Alfred North Whitehead writes ‘Process Philosophy’ suggesting that the existence of the natural world should be understood in terms of process and change, not things or fixed stabilities.

Time Line
We Think Only When We Are Confronted With Problems – John Dewey c.1859 -1952
For Dewey, philosophical problems are not abstract problems divorced from people’s lives. He sees them as problems that occur because humans are living beings trying to make a sense of their world, struggling to decide how to best act within it.

“Education is not an affair of telling and being told, but an active and constructive process” John Dewey.

Those Who Cannot Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It – George Santayana c.1863 -1952
George Santayana
Image curtsy Wikipedia
Real progress, Santayana believes, is not so much a matter of revolution as of adaptation, taking what we have learned from the past and using it to build the future.
2004: In his book, Memory, History, Forgetting, French philosopher Paul Ricoeur explores the necessity not only of remembering, but also of forgetting the past.

It Is Only Suffering That Makes Us Persons – Miguel De Unamuno c. 1864 – 1936
The Spanish philosopher, novelist, and poet, Miguel de Unamuno, is perhaps best known for his book ‘The Tragic Sense Of Life’ (1913). In this he writes that all consciousness is consciousness of death (We are painfully aware of our lack of immortality) and of suffering. What makes us human is the fact that we suffer.

It looks like the idea of Buddha, but Unamuno’s response to suffering is very different. Unlike Buddha, who also said that suffering is an inescapable part of all human life, Unamuno does not see suffering as a problem to be overcome through practicing detachment. Instead he argues that suffering is an essential part of what it means to exist as a human being, and a vital experience.
20th Century: Unamuno’s philosophy of suffering influences other Spanish writers such as Federico Garcia Lorca and Juan Ramon Jimenez, and the British author Graham Greene

The Road To Happiness Lies In An Organized Diminution Of Work – Bertrand Russell c.1872 – 1970
Russell with his children
Image curtsy Wikipedia
Russell’s suggestion is that we look at work not in terms of these curious moral ideas that are a relic of earlier times, but in terms of what makes for a full and satisfying human life. And when we do this, Russell believes, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we should all simply work less.

Love Is A Bridge From Poorer To Richer Knowledge – Max Scheler c.1874 - 1928
Max Scheler belongs to philosophical movement ‘Phenomenology, which attempts to investigate all the phenomena of our inner experience; it is the study of our consciousness.

It is love, Scheler believes, that makes things apparent to our experience and that makes knowledge possible. Scheler writes, that love is ‘a kind of spiritual midwife’ that is capable of drawing us towards knowledge, both knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of the world. It is the ‘primary determinant’ of a person’s ethics, possibilities, and fate.

Only As An Individual Can Man Become A Philosopher – Karl Jaspers c.1883 - 1969
For German Philosopher and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers, philosophy is a personal struggle. He suggests that philosophy is a matter of our own attempts to realize truth. Since philosophy is an individual struggle, he writes in his 1941 book ‘On My Philosophy’, we can philosophize only as individuals. We cannot turn to anybody else to tell us the truth; we must discover it for ourselves, by our own efforts.

Life Is A Series Of Collisions With The Future – Jose Ortega Y Gasset c.1883 -1955
Ortega says that it makes no sense to see ourselves as separate from the world. If we want to think seriously about ourselves, we have to see that we are always immersed in particular circumstances – Circumstances that are often oppressive and limiting. There limitations are not only because of our physical surroundings, but also of our thoughts, which contain prejudices, and our behavior which is shaped by habit.

To Philosophize First One Must Confess – Hajime Tanabe c.1885 -1962
For Tanabe, philosophy is a process of relating, in the deepest possible sense, to our very being – an idea that is partly shaped by his reading of Martin Heidegger.

Philosophy in other words, is not an activity that we engage in, but something that happens through us when we gain access to our true selves by letting go of the self – a phenomenon that Tanabe calls ‘action without an acting subject’.

The Limits Of My Language Are The Limits Of My World – Ludwig Wittgenstein c.1889 - 1951
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Image curtsy Wikipedia
Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico – Philosophicus is perhaps one of the most forbidding texts in the history of 20th century philosophy. Only around 70 pages long in its English translation, the book is made up of a series of highly condensed and technical numbered remarks. In the book, Wittgenstein wants to set the limits of language and, by implication, of all thought. He does this because he suspects that a great deal of philosophy discussion and disagreement is based on some fundamental errors in how we go about thinking and talking about the world.

We Are Ourselves The Entities To Be Analyzed – Martin Heidegger c.1889 -1976
In his book, ‘Being and Time’, Heidegger claims that when other philosopher have asked ontological questions, they have tended to use approaches that are too abstract and shallow. If we want to know what it means to say that something exists, we need to start looking at the question from the perspective of those being for whom being is an issue.

He contributed to the birth of existentialism and influenced Sartre, Levinas and Gadamer.
“Dying is not an event; it is a phenomenon to be understood existentially” Martin Heidegger

The Individuals Only True Moral Choice Is Through Self – Sacrifice For The Community – Tetsuro Watsuji c.1889 -1960
Watsuji was one of the leading philosophers in Japan in the early part of the 20th century. Watsuji’s studies of western approach to ethics convinced him that thinkers in the West tend to take an individualistic approach to human nature, and so also to ethics. But for Watsuji, individuals can only be understood a expressions of their particular times, relationships, and social contexts, which together constitutes a ‘climate’. He explores the ideas of human nature in terms of our relationships with the wider community, which form a network within which we exist.

Logic Is The Last Scientific Ingredient Of Philosophy – Rudolf Carnap c.1891 – 1970
Carnap believes that many apparently deep philosophical problems – such as metaphysical ones – are meaningless, because they cannot be proved or disproved through experience. He adds that they are also infact, pseudo-problems caused by logical confusions in the way we use language.
1930s: Karl Popper proposes that science works by means of falsifiability: no amount of positive proofs can prove something to be true, whereas one negative result confirms that a theory is incorrect.

In So Far A Scientific Statement Speaks About Reality, It Must Be Falsifiable – Karl Popper c1902 - 1994
Karl Popper
Image curtsy Wikipedia
Theories that are un-testable (e.g. that we each have an invisible spirit guide, or that God created the universe) are not part of the natural sciences. This does not mean that they are worthless, only that they are the kinds of theorist that sciences deal with.
The idea of falsifiability is still used in distinguishing between scientific and non-scientific claims, and Popper remains perhaps the most important philosopher of science of the 20th century.
1978: Paul Feyerabend, in ‘Against Method’, questions the very idea of scientific method.

Intelligence Is Moral Category – Theodor Adorno c. 1903 -1969
In his book ‘Minima Moralia’, the German Philosopher Theodor Adorno calls into question this long tradition of ‘saint / sage who was foolish but morally good or pure’. The problem with the idea of the holy fool, Adorno says, is that it divides us into different parts, and in doing so makes us incapable of acting judiciously at all. Adorno’s view implies that evil acts are not just failures of feelings, but also failures of intelligence and understanding.

"Popular culture, not only makes us stupid; it also makes us unable to act morally" - Theodor Adorno.
1994: Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio publishes ‘Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain’

Existence Precedes Essence – Jean-Paul Sartre c.1905 - 1980
Jean-Paul Sartre
Image curtsy Wikipedia
Philosophy assumes that there is a universal essence of what it is to be human, and that this essence can be found in every single human that has ever existed, or will ever exist.

However, a rock is simply a rock, a cauliflower is simply a cauliflower, and mouse is simply a mouse. But human beings possess the ability to actively shape themselves. By making choices, we are also creating a template for how we think a human life ought to be. If I decide to become a philosopher, then I am not just deciding for myself. I am implicitly saying that being a philosopher is a worthwhile activity. This means that freedom is the greatest responsibility of all.

“As far as men go, it is not what they are that interest me, but what they can become” – Jean-Paul Sartre c.1905 - 1980

In Order To See The World, We Must Break With Our Familiar Acceptance Of It – Maurice Merleau-Ponty c.1908 - 1961
Merleau-Ponty’s focus on the role of the body in experience, and his insights into the nature of the mind as fundamentally embodied, have led to a revival of interest in his work among cognitive scientists. Many recent developments in cognitive science seem to bear out his idea, that once we break with our familiar experience of the world, experience is very strange indeed.
1979: Hubert Dreyfus draws on the works Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Merleau-Ponty to explore philosophical problems raised by artificial intelligence and robotics.

Language Is A Social Art – Willard Van Orman Quine c. 1908 -2000
Some philosophers assert that language is about the relationship between words and things. Quine, however, disagrees. Language is not about the relationship between objects and verbal signifiers, but about knowing what to say and when to say it. It is, he says in his 1968 essay ‘Ontological Relativity’, a social art.
1990s: In ‘Consciousness Explained’, Quine’s former student Daniel Dennett says that both meaning and inner experience can only be understood as social acts.

The Fundamental Sense Of Freedom Is Freedom From Chains – Isaiah Berlin c.1909 - 1997
What does it mean to be free? This is the question explored by the British Philosopher Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’. For Berlin, ‘negative’ freedom is what he calls our ‘fundamental sense’ of freedom. This kind of freedom is freedom from external obstacles: I am free because I am not chained to a rock, because I am not in prison, and so on.

Present day: Development of new surveillance technology raises fresh questions about the nature of freedom.

Time Line
TEXT AND TIME LINE IMAGES: From "THE PHILOSOPHY BOOKby the Publishers - DK London of series, 'Big Idea Simply Explained'. 

Hope you have liked the second part of the post on the Philosophy - History and its ideas and perspectives. To read the other parts, click below...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Philosophy Part III - Modern World

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