Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

I'll be grateful if you...

Jul 31, 2016

On Vedic Culture - Hindu Phobia is not the right way to look at it....

As one of my favorite Czech Author, Milan Kundera once said that every act of creativity, writing or novel should have a purpose. I had decided to write my story in year 1987, when I first visited Rishikesh, finished writing all three parts of "The Monk Key" in 2010 Nov. But still had no reason to get it published other than my ego, I.e. to get to be known as an author, which was actually not on my priority list. But last year, one day I asked my son, have you read Bhagwat Gita and he said, no - what’s the point of reading it. This gave me a purpose, i.e. to make our Vedic / Upanishadic / Poranic scriptures come out of obscure depths of dogmatic beliefs and rituals and become main stream and interesting for young generation. This book "Songs of the Mist" and "The Monk Key" series is my one small step towards that goal.

You see, our conscious mind works on only two things - logic and language. And our ancient books and scriptures are treasure troves of both Language as well as knowledge and the extremely deep thought processes. Reading these ancient books can easily ignite a spark a new idea, a new search for meaning in your mind, specially young minds. Yes there are things written in these books that usually don’t go with modern and prevalent scientific thoughts. But the fact is that some people cherry-pick only the negative things about our culture and heritage, and in the process creating a narrative, which is not actually in the sync with the grand reality of our heritage and culture. This ultimately has created a bias against our vedic heritage and culture and alienated young generation. This saddens me to a great extent and with this post I am trying to put things in certain perspective, with hope that it will inspire you to reach out to our heritage and culture.

Almost 3000 years ago, Pythagoras came to India, (Albert Burk in his book Das Apstamba Sulba Sutra 1901 says he came to Kanchipuram) to learn from Indian sages, masters and went back to his city. Apart from the Pythagoras theorem that he is famous for, which is now proven to be the direct takeaway from Shulabha Strotra, he also took our methods of teaching, which was famous at the time. - The Gurukul system of learning. The alumni were the likes of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.

Image curtsy Wikipedia

Let me tell you another story, which I have talked about in my blog post earlier discussing the Big Bang (Click here to read). Lemaitre - An ordained priest in 1931 observed the night sky over the years and realised that the nebulae’s he was observing are going farther away. He then proposed that the Universe must be expanding. Then as he retraced this expansion back in time as thought experiment and proposed a theory that as the Universe in the past must have started from a single point. In a BBC interview in 1949, George Gamow another scientist, gave this theory a name - The Big Bang Theory. In 1970, Stephen Hawking and his colleagues proved mathematically that the Universe indeed started from a single point with the Big Bang.

Now the reason I am telling you this story is that almost 3K years ago, in Mandukya Upanishad, it is also said that the Universe was formed from a point with the Pranava Naad which literally means A deep Sound, and if I may paraphrase - from the Big Bang. But if we go out and say this to a scientist, they will laugh.  Though this is exactly what the priest Lemaitre proposed in 1930s too. Why?

Because some one took Georges Lemaitre’s words seriously and did continuous research over decades and finally Stephen Hawkins proved it. But unfortunately in India, we don’t do it. We don’t take the thought experiments of our ancient sages to its logical conclusion by research and experiments. Almost 3K years ago we had abandoned the experimental part and only took forward the ritualistic part of our Vedic culture. I feel sad about it.

But slowly things are changing now. There are people still working on those obscure knowledge somehow or the other to make it acceptable to the world. Yoga is one such example of our knowledge being embraced by the world now.

There are people who do get inspired by those ancient shloka, for example a young mathematician of Indian origin in USA- Manjul Bhargava. He is a fields medal winner - which is considered to be a noble prize for mathematics. His grand father in Rajasthan gave him a set of ancient shloka’s. The Fibonacci sequence embedded in the shloka triggered his curiosity and he developed a method that won him his PhD in an US University too.

And I am happy that there are people like Manjul Bhargava from USA, and still more closer to us in Chennai cool people like my friends here, the youth icon and Singer Blaaze and a great Krishna Bhakta, Painter and famous Cartoonist of Hindu Sh. Keshav and music director Paul, with whom I am trying to bring out Songs of the Monk from my book. When I hear them collaborate and sing ancient Shloka’s, I feel that all is still not lost.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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                                 Creation and the eternal Sound OM

Chennai Colors: Renie Ravin - The man behind IndiBlogger - India's topmost vibrant community of Bloggers

As after many months, I get on again to write about amazing personalities of Chennai that make up the vibrant colors of the city. Today I am introducing a man, whose mantra is ‘We blog, therefore We are’ - a tagline that still greets you whenever you reach one of the most popular and powerful community of Indian Bloggers - IndiBlogger.

Renie Ravin is the most popular change agent in the Indian blogging sphere and founder of IndiBlogger - A powerful platform that created history of sorts, when they invited the world class social media marketers, Authors and Rock star in their World class blogging meet "Blog Now, Live Forever" - BNLF. It is not every day that you get to see the reclusive Bruce Dickinson - Lead Singer of Iron Maiden, who still carries Ancient run down Nokia phone, held together by cello tape. 

Bruce Dickinson - The Rockstar at IndiBlogger Meet #BNLF

I met Renie for the first time in 2010 amongst a social media discussion group and few minutes into the conversation with him, I was convinced to start my own public blog (till that time, I was doing only personal blogging, known to only few of my close friends) and join his blogging community - IndiBlogger. From embracing his mantra of “We blog, therefore we are” to his major tour de-force “Blog Now, Live Forever”, I have been through it all. Honed my blogging skills with the peers and mentors at IndiBlogger, attended all of the Chennai meets to even going all over India to attend few more in far flung cities like Delhi, Mumbai.

I grew with the community. And IndiBlogger gave me the perfect gift - the ultimate honor in the form of award - the number 1 spiritual blogger of India, judged by 20 prominent personalities of India. The beauty of IndiBlogger is that it ensures that you are in a different world of your own, always learning, growing and being the individual that you are, where ever, whenever you interact with and within the community or join in their events or interact with other members offline. This has come from the amazing team of IndiBlogger and ‘the down to earth’ persons like Renie Raven.  Probably that is the color of Chennai too… down to earth.
The IndiBlogger Team
Few weeks ago, I caught up with Renie at one of the finest restaurants of Chennai - Zara, which is also one of the places, where IndiBlogger meet once in a while. Over the years, we have had interacted on various fronts, even created Indi Blogger for Social Action (IBSA) meets where Renie and his team joined to provide their support, but this meeting was to get to know Renie, up close and personal, so read on.

A wonderful lunch at Zara - Chennai with the man behind IndiBlogger

The story behind success of IndiBlogger is quite simple: Four friends, working in various cities, got together to provide a platform for like minded people and as the cliché goes, rest is history. They rocked the Indian blogging world through their sheer passion, dedication and love for blogging. Free timeline to work (you get to work from home at IndiBlogger), create what you are passionate about and say what you would like to, as long as you don’t break the trust of Individual bloggers. Indiblogger is so focussed towards the individual bloggers that when I decided to host an event in Chennai 'Indiblogger for Social Action' the whole Indiblogger gang was there including Renie Ravin.

Renie running the show at the blogging event I hosted in Chennai

Renie probably had the idea from the very beginning what he is going to do in future, as he created Madras Christian College (MCC) unofficial website in 2000, which has got the whole college, staff and alumnae logging on for various information. As a web architect, Renie did work in various companies, before joining his childhood friend from Nagercoil - the flamboyant face of Indi Blogger, one of the best Masters of ceremony, I have ever seen - Anoop, who roped in Karthik shortly afterwards. Anwin and Navin worked along with the IndiBlogger team as part timer. While Vineet caught up a bus from Hyderabad, landed in Pune and joined IndiBlogger over a bottle of scotch… 

Anoop - The flamboyant face of IndiBlogger

Blogging is a lonely activity, you think about something that you would like to share with the world, you write and edit, write again and at the click of a button its out there in the world and then you go back to whatever you were doing earlier. 

Attending Christoph's workshop on social media at BNLF - Mumbai

Renie created a platform for all those thinkers, writers and loners to meet online and incredible offline meets, which is now the most awaited event for almost all the bloggers of India across the country - An IndiBlogger Meet. The first company to commercialize blogger meets. Blogger meets were happening by small groups who met at coffee shops and malls. IndiBlogger roped in brands to fund events. If you do a Google search for “Blogger meets 2008”, The only branded blogger meets you would find is from IndiBlogger, and then over the years dozens of them which rocked the blogging community. Then the Mumbai BNLF meet happened which was the game changer of blogging community, created a platform for the bloggers to interact with world leaders of Social Media, the world’s best bloggers, India’s top woman Author and the most elusive rock star.

For Indian Bloggers, IndiBlogger has been amazing journey from ‘We blog, therefore We are’ to ‘Blog Now, Live Forever’. BNLF was two days of fun, learning and interacting with top influencer, which was totally funded by IndiBlogger. 

Why did they do it for free? Well as Renie says, “We wanted to take the Indian blogging to the next level across the world.” and I must say the IndiBlogger succeeded in doing exactly that with BNLF. 600 Plus bloggers in one place, full of enthusiasm and interest to know what they can do next. Renowned Social Media expert, Christoph Trappe's great half day workshop on social media put quite a few bloggers on the right path, including me. 

With Christoph Trappe - great mentor and a good friend

And the amazing speakers like Purba Ray, Preeti Shenoy, Jeff Bullas, Christoph Trappe and many more provided interesting stories and experiences to the event. Click on their name's to read about them and their thoughts in curtain raiser, before the event.

With India's Top Women Author Preeti Shenoy at BNLF 

Pumped up with Jeff Bullas and Indiblogger gang at BNLF Meeting
Renie has amazing plans for Indian Blogging community. He says that he is going to do BNLF series across India and the world. He also promised to do some event in Chennai soon. There are lot of things are happening at IndiBlogger, a new website is in the pipeline, the global outreach program and as he says, “Connecting with right people” with the IndiBlogger platform. 

He is also planning to start an amazing opportunity for the business reporting and Public Relationship exercise IndiOne.

Renie at one of the IndBlogging events at Hyatt Chennai

At the end of our fruitful lunch, he left me with a powerful thought for everyone, “The blogging is within you, unleash it” and of course, as they say, “no animals will be harmed by that action…”

Hope I have given you a brief glimpse about Renie Ravin, one of the earthly colors of Chennai - the one who is changing the path of social media, one blog at a time.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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"Language alone of our scriptures will change you" - Songs of the Mist Book Launch

When the Ashvin Ji, owner of the famous bookstore in Chennai - Odyssey called up to inform that they are planning to launch my book, I was pleasantly surprised and happy. It felt like I am making some progress towards my goal of getting the word out that there is more to our ancient culture and heritage.

One of the main reasons of writing and publishing “The Monk Key” series is to reach out to the young generation who, in my opinion are alienated from the deep source of our culture, heritage and thoughts - our ancient scriptures. When asked, whether they have read our Vedas, Purana's and Upanishad's etc., the typical replies is "What is the point of reading them"? This is due to the certain biases ingrained through the modern education system, which reflect the western philosophy. The first book “Songs of the Mist” of ‘The Monk Key’ series is my attempt to share the knowledge and thoughts of Karma Yoga, based on Bhagwat Gita; in order to inspire them to connect proactively with our cultural heritage. Here I must thank my Publisher of my book's Hindi Translation - Story Mirror which will allow my book to reach wider audience.

Then, as the whole universe conspired to make my attempt a reality, famous Rap Singer / spiritualist Blaaze and Sh. Keshav Ji - Hindu Cartoonist and foremost Krishna Bhakt, agreed to discuss how positively the ancient Shloka’s and scriptures affect our selves, provide a great source of energy and peace as well as the way to live. Thank you Raghwesh, Paul and Ashwani Bhai connecting me with wonderful people, who graced the occasion.

The Chennai Bloggers Club rallied behind and started a contest on the topic ‘What Spirituality means to you’, in which numerous bloggers participated and wrote wonderful blog posts that in itself inspired many more. I must thank Mahesh, Bragadeesh and Sindhu - Admins of Chennai Bloggers Club for such wonderful support in making this event huge success.

It also inspired Blaaze in a way that he worked continuously for 18 hours to finish our collaboration 'Gita Dhyanam' rap, just two hours before the launch and played for the audience for the first time as they settled in.

But above all it was the wonderful discussion with such creative souls, which underlined my thrust for the younger generation to dive into the depth of knowledge that our ancient culture and heritage carries within. My book "Songs of the Mist" is in reality just a little such attempt to reach out to the young generation, through its underlying theme - Karma Yoga i.e. the essence of Bhagwat Gita for young generation.

"When you just listen to Shloka, the Sanskrit syllables are enough to get you positive energy, without knowing anything about it. It can only bring peace in a world like this". - Blaaze

BlaaZe, my friend, is an amazing guy who is not only a friend with whom I collaborating on the monk's 9 songs from "Songs of the Mist" but also is the inspiration who got me thinking about Shloka rap. From Baba Rap of Rajnikanth Sir's movie, to Slum Dog Millionaire, Delhi 6, Bunty or Bubli to Shyamala Dandakam, he is one amazing guy. Thank you for coming BlaaZe, I could not be more grateful. Om Namah Shivaya.

“Our Purana’s and ancient Vedic Scriptures etc., give you how to deal with life, how to deal with situations and predicaments, as they have already analyzed and laid it out on platter so that you don’t have to think.” - Keshav ji

Keshav ji is the man behind my upcoming coffee table book "Essence of Bhagwat Gita" which is based upon the "Songs of the Mist". Here in this book, I am giving you all the glimpse of 9 songs of the mysterious Monk, who took Ashutosh under his wings and explained the way to live. Keshav ji, apart from being one of the most famous cartoonists of Hindu Group, he is also a great painter and above all a Krishna Bhakt.

As Mahesh, the host took over the mike, the venue was overflowing with readers, few of my friends from book club and fellow authors like Arun, Riti Prasad from the Publisher Story Mirror. Later one of the book club members, T Suresh commented that it was an unique event in many ways, which started with invocation of Saraswati Vandana by Vidya Devanathan (Thanks to my friend Jothivel from CBC) and Shloka rap, Shyamala Dandakam and ended with Krishna songs, something he had never seen before.

On my part, I purposely avoided talking a lot about my book and focused primarily on the idea of getting the younger generation inspired enough by my talk and by my book ‘Songs of the Mist’ to start connecting with our heritage and culture. Start reading our ancient texts like Bhagwat Gita, Purana’s and Upanishads. Start listening to Sanskrit Shloka and saying it out loud as in the words of Blaaze “Sound of Shloka is enough to give you positivity, energy and peace”

Here is a videos where Blaaze is describing his journey from Baba Rap to Shloka Rap, Keshav Ji on his journey from Cartoons in Hindu to painting one picture of Krishna on Face Book everyday. Hope it inspires you to connect with our culture and heritage too.

Leaving you all with some wonderful photographs from the event, (thanks to an amazing photographer Vinod from CBC again, who covered the event) hope you will enjoy it.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Hindu Lit for Life 2016                                    

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